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Celebrating 75 Years of the NHS

Wednesday the 5th of July will mark 75 years since the establishment of the NHS in Scotland. The service was established as a result of the National Health Service (NHS) Act of 1947 and aimed to meet all the health needs of UK citizens free of charge.

Pictorial plan of the new National Health Service from the Lothian Health Service Archive [LHSA Ref: GD1/112]

Prior to the establishment of the NHS, healthcare in Scotland was provided by a mix of voluntary, municipal, provident, private and government sources at both the hospital and community levels. After 1948, the Department of Health Scotland took responsibility for co-ordinating a variety of community-based services, including hospital provision, maternity care, midwifery, child welfare, immunisation, home nursing and mental health services. General practitioners, dentists, chemists and opticians remained self-employed but Executive Councils were set up to arrange payment for services for NHS patients.

Scotland’s over 400 hospitals became part of five regional hospital boards and eighty-five local hospital boards. Today there are fourteen regional NHS Boards, the archives of many of which are managed by or accessed through Scotland and Medicine partners.

To celebrate 75 years of achievement and making a difference to people's lives, here are the events Scotland and Medicine partners are participating in and some online exhibitions you can view.

As part of the Public Art Dundee initiative, and to mark the 75th anniversary of the National Health Service, university museum curator Matthew Jarron will lead an informal walking tour around Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, exploring some of the many paintings, sculptures, stained glass and textile art pieces on display.

The walk will end at Ninewells Community Garden where there will be a special open-day event taking place which you are also welcome to attend.

Wednesday 5th July at 11am, starting from the Fresh Air Garden next to the main entrance to Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

When the NHS was founded on 5th July 1948 it was partly modelled on the Highlands & Islands Medical Service. Join Community Engagement Officer, Lorna, and Family Historian, Anne, in this online talk to delve into the Highland Archive Service collections and discover stories of hospitals, doctors, nurses and patients.

Wednesday 5th July at 7pm online.

The Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA) holds the historically important local records of NHS hospitals. They collect, preserve and catalogue these records and promote them to increase understanding of the history of health and for the benefit of all.

As well as a history of the NHS, the Lothian Health Services Archive also has an online version of a photographic exhibition produced to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS and a digital copy of the Your Health Service, How it Will Work in Scotland pamphlet available which was produced in 1948 to inform Scottish people about the structure and role of the new National Health Service.


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