What the National Health Service means to me

What does the National Health Service mean to you?

In this video patients and staff in Wales state what the NHS means to them. It was filmed to celebrate the 68th birthday of the service. On 5 July 1948, at the Park Hospital (now known as Trafford General Hospital) in Manchester, Aneurin Bevan unveiled the National Health Service and stated, “We now have the moral leadership of the world”.

Bevan had to fight Doctor’s opposition to the service and skilfully offered the doctors and consultants incentives to get them to agree. It came into the world kicking and screaming but it was a fledgling organisation that was to make its mark on the country and indeed, as Bevan had predicted, on the world.

This morning I used the Catch-Up service on my television to view a documentary called “Call the Midwife, The Casebook”.

Cal the Midwife Casebook

This was presented by the actor Stephen McGann who plays Dr Patrick Turner in the excellent series “Call The Midwife” based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth of her time as a midwife in a catholic mission in Poplar in London’s East End in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

In this documentary McGann does not just look into midwifery, which in itself was an interesting subject that was covered, but also gives the background to the pre-NHS healthcare system (which was a mixture of charity and private organisations and individuals). He talks to the first baby born under the NHS (at just after midnight on the 5th July 1948, Aneira Thomas (named after Aneurin Bevan!)  at  (fittingly) Amman Valley Hospital, Carmarthenshire in Wales.

She told  of her grandfather, who had an accident whilst working as a miner and was operated on, without anaesthetic, on their kitchen table. To pay for the operation the family had to sell the only valuable possession they had, a piano.

Ms Thomas said that she was so proud of the NHS because it had given everybody the right to medical support, free-of-charge. The years of having to avoid any treatment because you couldn’t afford it were over. It meant that anybody, whatever their means had a right to treatment.

I was born in 1953 and according to a Labour Party site I was able to find the following


Over the years I have had free injections, a free hospital stay for my  one one and only operation the removal of my tonsils and adenoids, free health checks, dentistry (until I was a working adult) and now that I’m over 60 I get free medication.

My family has been covered by the NHS in so many different ways  and two of my cousins became nurses in the system. Like so many in the Call the Midwife  documentary and in the 68th birthday video I am immensely proud of the NHS and feel so fortunate to have grown up with it as a part of my life.

Unfortunately, the service has been under severe stress due to continuous cuts by successive governments. Many of the facilities are now privatised and this last year has seen doctors and nurses taking to industrial action to defend the service and their future within it.

Like Stephen McGann the NHS means so much to me. It is something that,as a nation we can be really really proud. It is something to fight for and preserve.

What does the NHS mean to you?


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