Instruments of Change

Human Stories, Medical Objects.

A new exhibition 'Instruments of Change' curated by the Museum of Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester showcases Manchester innovations and explores how the University has helped to shape patient care.

Stories recorded by NHS at 70: the Story of our Lives illuminate the medical advances and objects featured in the exhibition.

Listen below to the oral histories which feature in the exhibition.

For more information visiting Instruments of Change click here (




Early use of penicillin

Charles Howe

Charles talks about his experience of having peritonitis in 1945 and how he was treated with penicillin supplied by Americans, who were using Park Hospital (Trafford Hospital) during the Second World War

“I ended up with incisions in two parts and I was told… that they actually tipped penicillin powder itself into the abdominal cavity”.


Children in hospital


Reflects on her experience of being hospitalised in 1948 aged 5 and the impact this had on her.

“The other memory which has scarred me for life …was my mum and dad used to come and visit and then I’d get upset you know. So then, what they did, was banned my mum and dad from seeing me. Can you believe that? Because what they said is, ‘Oh she is getting too upset so don’t come again’. And so I remember one day, I saw them peeping behind this screen at the entrance to the ward…I just went mad and I got out of bed and I started to run… they had just disappeared as obviously they were scared as they didn’t want to upset the staff... I can remember running all over the hospital…and someone must have caught me and taken me back. But then I didn’t see my mum and dad.”

Listen here to Patricia recall this experience.


Janice Fazackerley

Talks about changes in anaesthesia as halothane was phased out during the 1980s.

‘The main drug at the time was halothane, which I think a lot of people have heard of because it came from Liverpool and Manchester and was quite famous, but halothane was running into problems because it seemed to be causing liver disease and another drug had come along, enflurane, which was slightly different as was an ether but it had its own vaporiser because these vaporisers are specific to each agent.’


June Rosen

June recalls her experience of the launch of the NHS in July 1948.

“My father was a Manchester City Councillor and when I was 8 Aneurin Bevan came to stay the night with us because he was going to launch the NHS. My mother said to me we are going to take our guest breakfast in bed and you can come with me. So we took a tray upstairs. I do remember exactly what he looked like sitting up in bed in his pyjamas with a shock of grey hair….My mother said it was the most amazing time to be involved in politics, we felt as though we were going to build the  New Jerusalem.”