Vintage medical supplies

NHS history

On 5 July 1948, the NHS was launched by the then Health Secretary, Aneurin Bevan, at Park Hospital in Manchester (known today as Trafford General Hospital).

For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella to provide services for free at the point of delivery.

The last 70 years

Over the last 70 years, the NHS has transformed the health and wellbeing of the nation and become the envy of the world.

The NHS has delivered huge medical advances and improvements to public health, meaning we can all expect to live longer lives.

It is thanks to the NHS that we have all but eradicated diseases such as polio and diphtheria, and pioneered new treatments like the world’s first liver, heart and lung transplant.

In more recent times, we have seen innovations like mechanical thrombectomy to improve stroke survival, bionic eyes to restore sight, and surgical breakthroughs such as hand transplants.

The NHS Choices website includes an overview of the milestones of the NHS in England from its launch in 1948 to the present day.

In addition, the Nuffield Trust has produced an interactive timeline which charts the evolution of the NHS from its inception in the post-war years through to today.

As well as celebrating the NHS’s 70th birthday, 2018 also marks the 70th anniversary of the Empire Windrush arriving at Tilbury Docks, London. Many of the passengers took up roles in the NHS, which launched two weeks later.

Watch the NHS70 highlights video

Watch this short video which shows some of the highlights from the NHS over the last 70 years:

Reflections of nursing in the NHS

Watch NHS nurses talk about how the profession has changed:

 

The early NHS – through the stories of former staff

Watch former staff share their memories of the early days of NHS: