Comment - Happy birthday!

‘It just sort of happened.’

Those are the words a physiotherapist used when Frontline asked her to sum up what it felt like to be working on the day the NHS was born, 65 years ago.

Of course, the late 1940s were a more stoical time and healthcare workers, like everyone else, had just emerged from the rigours and austerity of the second world war.

There were, we learned, no fireworks, flag-waving or popping of champagne corks to trumpet the NHS’s arrival.

For some, it appears working in the NHS was little different from what they had experienced before.

One witness even told us she was more interested in her social life at the time than in thinking about what the inception of the NHS might mean for her and her colleagues.  

What were members of the public told? A factsheet informed patients that from 5 July 1948 the NHS would provide them with ‘all [the] medical, dental and medical care’ they needed.

‘Everyone – rich or poor, man, woman or child – can use any part of it.

There are no charges, except for a few special items,’ it noted reassuringly.

‘You are all paying for it, mainly as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in time of illness.’

Despite its occasional faults, there can surely be no one in the UK who doesn’t have a reason to be grateful for something they have received from the NHS during their lifetime.

Physios, along with the CSP and other unions, will be playing their part in events taking place around the country this month to celebrate the NHS’s significant anniversary.

CSP members are expected to join in a ‘hands around the hospital’ event organised by the Save Trafford Hospital campaign, for example.

To find out more about the TUC’s ‘Built to care: Keep our NHS safe at 65’ campaign, visit:

Ian A McMillan Deputy editor, Frontline

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