Health and Beauty

A History of the NHS

A History of NHS

Since its introduction the National Health Service has changed.

This article will look at a brief history of the NHS.

A History of NHS

1948 – 1959

On the 5th July 1948 the NHS was born, when the then health secretary Aneurin Bevan opened Park Hospital in Manchester.

The opening of the Hospital was the climax to a hugely ambitious plan to bring excellent healthcare to everyone.

The introduction of the NHS brought together Hospitals, Doctors, Nurses, Opticians, Pharmacists and Dentists under the one umbrella.

On the 1st of June 1952 a one shilling prescription charge was introduced and a one pound flat rate charge for ordinary dental treatment.

The prescription charge was abolished in 1965 and remained free until June 1968 when the charges where reintroduced.

On the 25th April 1953 two scientists from Cambridge University describe the structure deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in Nature Magazine.

This was a breakthrough that allowed scientists to understand the effects of hereditary characteristics between parent and child.

1954 seen the introduction of daily visits to hospital for children until this introduction children in hospital could only see their parents for an hour on Saturdays and Sundays and were frequently placed in adult wards with no explanation of why they were there.

One of the primary aims of the NHS was to promote good health not just treat illness in 1958 the introduction of the polio and diphtheria vaccine was seen as a key part of the NHS plans.

The plan was to ensure that everyone under the age of 15 was vaccinated which would lead to an immediate reduction in cases of both diseases.


On the 30th October 1960 the first UK kidney transplant took place at the Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary Hospital which involved an identical set of twins aged 49 years old.

1961 saw the introduction of the pill which played a major role in women’s liberation and was the main contributor to what is now known as the swinging sixties.

In 1962 the medical profession was rocked by the decision to break the NHS up in to three parts hospitals, general practice and local health authorities which lead to calls for unification.

The Salmon report that published in 1967 set out recommendations to for developing the nursing staff structure and status of the profession in hospital management.


The 70’s had some key breakthroughs that changed the face of medicine such as the introduction of CT scans in 1972 revolutionised the way doctors examine the body.

However it was not until the 25th July 1978 that so the birth of the first test tube baby which led to the technique in-vitro fertilisation being introduced.

1979 also so a major breakthrough when the first successful bone marrow transplant on a child took place.


1980 saw the introduction of Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners which proved to be more effective than earlier equipment in providing information about soft tissue.

Keyhole surgery was used for the first time in 1980 to remove a gallbladder.

During 1988 an ambitious project was launched to reduce breast cancer related deaths in woman over 50 with the introduction of breast screening.


The 90’s seen the introduction of the community care act which meant that local authorities would manage their own health budgets, it was also during the 90’s that the first 57 NHS trusts were established .

In 1994 the NHS launched the Organ Donor register this had followed a five year campaign by a couple who had lost their son who had asked to donate his organs.

1998 saw the launch of NHS Direct which has become one of the largest single e-health services in the world.

Although the NHS was founded on the principles of offering excellent healthcare to everyone, some of the NHS trusts have forgotten this which has led to decisions being made about healthcare being made based on finance as opposed to health.

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Helen Smith works for her local NHS trust and is responsible for the advertising of any available Physiotherapy Jobs.

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