New exhibition marks 70 years of the NHS

The first shared social history of the National Health Service is to be created in Manchester, marking the institution’s 70th anniversary.

The University of Manchester has secured £785,000 in National Lottery funding to make it happen.

The grant will go towards training volunteers from a range of ages and backgrounds to gather stories from NHS patients and workers as well as politicians and the general public, recording its unique place in everyday, post-war British life.

Many of the health service’s first patients and workers, when it was established in 1948, are now in their 80s and 90s, and the 70th anniversary of the NHS presents one of the last opportunities to record their stories.

160 people, young and old, from all walks of life, will be trained to gather stories and artefacts from the NHS’ 70-year history. 70 young people aged 14-25 will act as Community Reporters, filming stories in their local area. These testimonies, from everyday users and workers in the health service, to key policymakers, MPs and trade union officials, will contribute to a multimedia, publicly accessible record of the NHS, filling existing gaps in its history, and recording the personal stories that make the service so unique.

The stories will appear in many forms: on a new website and a touring exhibition, a programme of events and 40 minute feature film.

Ros Kerslake, HLF Chief Executive, said: “This fantastic project will capture the rich heritage of the NHS, as it reaches its 70th birthday. We were particularly impressed by the number and range of people who will be involved in the project, receiving training to capture and present the story of this much loved national treasure for future generations.”

Stuart Goulden

Lead Consultant