NHS at 70: Launch of Digital Archive
Listen to the first 12 oral histories in the NHS at 70 Digital Archive
Explore the rich diversity of NHS history through people’s voices. These are a taster of the oral histories recorded by our volunteers in South Wales and Greater Manchester. To listen to the stories in full, register here and visit the Digital Archive. We will be adding to the Archive over the coming weeks. More than 140 oral history interviews have already been collected by our fantastic team of volunteers and you can find out more about their work here.
Everybody has a story to tell about the unique place of the NHS in everyday life since 1948. Get in touch now to share your story.
Charles Howe was born at Park Hospital, Trafford which was later to be the birthplace of the NHS
During the Second World War, Park Hospital (now known as Trafford General Hospital) was taken over by the US Army and the local Conservative Club became the local hospital. Aged 11, Charles suffered a burst appendix and was admitted for surgery. He was later told he was treated with penicillin powder which had been donated by the Americans at Park Hospital – penicillin was not in production in the UK at that time. He was in hospital for VE Day (May 8 1945) and remembers shouting about the bombs dropping and asking why they weren’t going to the air raid shelter. His deep interest in science led him to join the NHS as a technician where he specialised in blood tests for haemophilia, later becoming a Laboratory Superintendent in Withington Hospital. He describes the many significant technological advances during his career and believes the most significant to have been non-invasive technology including the introduction of ultrasound and scanning techniques, ‘the results are just incredible’.
Joyce Thompson was born in Padiham, near Burnley
Hylda Whitehead was born in Prestwich, Greater Manchester
Gill Wakely was born in London
Jane Milne was born in Kingston in Hull
Jane began her nurse training in 1964 at Leeds General Infirmary and talks about her experience of living in the Nurses’ Home where the routines were strict with 10pm curfews and boyfriends only allowed into the lobby. Student uniforms were pink check dresses with aprons and floppy hats, senior staff measured the hats to ensure they were the required 18” in width. Nightingale Wards consisted of 24 or 28 beds with extra beds down the middle, or in the corridors if required. Ambulances delivered and collected patients directly on to the wards, not via A and E. Each morning shift began with prayers for the day. After qualifying as a State Registered Nurse in 1967 she then worked in the children's surgical ward for a year before going on to train as a midwife in Salford in 1969. Jane spent her career in various midwifery and nursing roles reflecting that she enjoyed elderly medicine the most and getting to hear their life stories. She considers the challenges of caring for an elderly population and compares the advantages of the NHS compared to other health systems, referring to friends who live in other countries who are fearful of the costs of healthcare. ‘I don’t think you can beat the NHS anywhere in the world. I’m very proud of it. When I’ve been at the receiving end … there were hiccups, nothing was perfect but I know all the staff were working over and above’.
Gwen Crossley was born in Wallasey, Cheshire
Yasma Osman was born in Manchester
David Jones was born in Coventry
Alfred Samuels was born in Westminster, London
Peter Welsh was born in Newtown, Cardiff
Peter Davies was born in Camarthen, West Wales