On 5 July 1948, the NHS was officially launched at Park Hospital in Manchester (now Trafford General Hospital) by then Health Secretary, Aneurin Bevan. Bringing together hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists under one umbrella to provide healthcare services for free at the point of delivery, Bevan himself later described it as “the biggest single experiment in social service that the world has ever seen undertaken”.
Sylvia Diggory, just 13 years old, became the first ever NHS patient. Recalling the experience later, she said: “Mr Bevan asked me if I understood the significance of the occasion and told me that it was a milestone in history – the most civilised step any country had ever taken, and a day I would remember for the rest of my life – and of course, he was right.“
The NHS at 70
In the 70 years since that historic moment, the NHS has faced significant challenges, but it has also been responsible for some truly remarkable achievements. It is the UK’s single biggest employer (and the world’s fifth largest), and treats more than 1.4 million patients in England every 24 hours.
Throughout its existence the NHS has continued to change, adapt and evolve. Medical advances and innovations in technology constantly open up new opportunities for treatment and care provision, offering hope to generations of patients but also fuelling frequent debate.
ERS – Enabling good governance in the NHS
At ERS, we are proud to have played our own small part in the NHS story. Working with Foundation Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the country, ERS has been enabling good governance in the healthcare sector for over a decade – each year we administer over 80% of all Council of Governor elections undertaken.
As well as delivering successful elections, we have also been instrumental in steering change in the sector, advising the Department of Health on the initial Model Election Rules and then helping to redraft them to incorporate online voting.
From the whole team at ERS we are delighted to wish the NHS a very big HAPPY 70TH BIRTHDAY!
Local NHS and other bodies across the country are hosting events to mark the NHS turning 70. Find out more and, if necessary, book your place.
The History of the NHS
Check out the Nuffield Trust’s interactive timeline charting the evolution of the NHS from its inception in the post-war years through to today.
BBC Four documentary The NHS: A People’s History
This three part series is a crowdsourced social history of the NHS, told through people’s treasured mementos, from unsung medical heroes of the staff or the experiences of the patients. Watch it here.
Cultural History of the NHS project
The BBC documentary is part of a wider Cultural History of the NHS project at the University of Warwick. One part of the project is the development of a website that collects people’s personal stories and memories of the NHS.
If you would like to take part, visit the project’s website where you can share your stories, respond to calls for information, find out about public engagement events, and visit the project’s ‘virtual museum’ and ‘People’s Encyclopaedia of the NHS’.