Voices of Our National Health Service

Exploring the history of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). 

Voices of Our National Health Service is a research programme on the history of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

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This is focused on answering important questions about experiences of health and the place of the NHS in everyday life since 1948.

The NHS was created in 1948 to provide free and universal access to healthcare. It is a key institution which defines British national and international identity and shapes experiences of birth, life, health, sickness and death for the overwhelming majority of the public. Since the 1960s, it has been the UK’s largest employer.

The NHS is so much more than a health service 75 years on from its creation. It is embedded in UK culture. Its symbolic representation of compassion and equality unites people across political, social and economic divides, despite difficult histories of failures in care and persistent inequalities.

Project background

Creating a national collection of NHS heritage

The University of Manchester collaborated with volunteers and stakeholder organisations from across the UK between 2017 and 2022. Through the NHS at 70 and NHS Voices of COVID-19 projects, we recorded the stories of patients, staff and the public, which charted the 70+ years of the UK’s NHS. 

The work produced a collection of more than 2,400 interviews from people aged 18 to 100 and over, born in more than 50 different countries. 

They shared their experiences of the everyday place of the NHS in post-war British society, including experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Deposited as the Voices of Our National Health Service (VONHS) oral history collection at the British Library, these stories form a permanent public resource for use now and in the future.  

Current work

NHS 75/150 project

NHS 75/150 will engage Greater Manchester (GM) communities in discussions around the future of health and care. What can we learn from the past 75 years of the NHS? What will our health and social care system look like in another 75 years? What needs to change to better meet people’s visions of better health?  

Our aim is to discover and represent the hopes and dreams of people across GM for the NHS and the future of healthcare. GM communities will be inspired to imagine the future of health and care through reflection and conversation on the past 75 years and creative activities.  

Working with our partners 42nd Street, Manchester Cares, and the Caribbean and African Health Network, we will articulate people’s aspirations for a healthier future and shape GM’s approaches to improving population health and addressing inequity.  

To get involved, please contact James McSharry. 

Email: james.mcsharry@manchester.ac.uk 

Past work

Learn about our past projects on the NHS.

Research team

NHS Voices comprises researchers and support staff.

Professor Stephanie Snow 
View Stephanie’s profile  

Dr Angela Whitecross 
Project Manager 
View Angela’s profile 

James McSharry 
Oral History and Engagement Officer 

Contact us

Please get in touch if you have any questions about our projects.

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