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- In the Beginning

A Significant Medical History

The National Health Service was launched on 5th July 1948. At Gartnavel Royal Hospital, a flag raising ceremony was held. The flag depicted the sun rising – a suitable symbol for the great optimism about the new service.

During the first few weeks patients flooded into doctors’ surgeries – men with huge hernias restrained by trusses, women with prolapsed uteruses, thousands of near-deaf people without hearing aids, tens of thousands wearing second-hand spectacles.

Anuerin ‘Nye’ Bevan, the Minister of Health who was given the job of instituting the new National Health Service, said that the NHS would “lift the shadow from millions of homes”. Now it is clear that he was right.

It was the Second World War that made the NHS possible. The war produced a sense of social solidarity and cross-party consensus. In 1942, a famous report by Sir William Beveridge called for the creation of a National Health Service. The wartime coalition Government then produced a scheme for implementing that recommendation.

“Everybody, irrespective of means, age, sex or occupation shall have equal opportunity to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available”.

Once the war ended, the newly elected Government strove to turn this promise into reality.

Evening Times on the birthday of the NHS
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Evening News on the birthday of the NHS
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Anuerin Nye Bevan - founder of the NHS