5 July 1948
On the 5 July 1948 Aneurin Bevan ceremoniously launched the NHS at Park Hospital (now Trafford Hospital) in Davyhulme, Manchester. 70 years later we look back on this day as a significant historical event that marked the birth of an iconic and treasured British institution.
Yet at the time, the creation of the NHS was highly contested and there was doubt that the Service would last more than a few years. But the NHS proved highly popular and rapidly became embedded in British identity. In 1952, Bevan wrote of the ‘massive contribution’ that the NHS was making to ‘the equipment of a civilised society’. It was now ‘part of the texture of our national life’. Despite the successive crises around funding and structures, the NHS has remained at the forefront of British life. The 70th anniversary is being marked by special services at Westminster Abbey and York Minster and 2018 has been punctuated by award ceremonies for NHS heroes and special communities like the Windrush generation. For people today, the NHS continues to be a symbol of compassion, fairness and equality.
Capturing the diverse lived experiences of people who remember 5 July 1948 helps us understand how history is made and remembered.
Full interviews for Ruth Edwards and Catalina Bateman will be added to our digital archive soon. Click here to go to the digital archive and discover more fascinating NHS stories.
We will be adding our film 'Voices from the First NHS Hospital' from which June's interview is taken to the website in full at the end of this month.