Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 14:58 UK

NHS website to mark 60th birthday

Website celebrating 60 years of the NHS
A website celebrating 60 years of the NHS is to be launched next week

An archive of material charting the history of the NHS in Scotland is to be launched to mark its 60th anniversary.

The website charts Scottish contributions to the health service through a timeline, and features the recollections of staff and patients.

The NHS will reach its 60th birthday on 5 July, with a series of events to be held in Scotland with the site going live on Tuesday.

"This is a fascinating story," said health secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

She said: "From the distinctively Scottish contributions to the birth of the National Health Service and the remarkable achievements over the last 60 years.

"I am sure it will prove a valuable resource for the 60th anniversary celebrations - not just helping people to find out more but directly involving them as patients and staff.

"It is their stories which constitute the real history of the National Health Service."

For the vast majority of people and for the vast majority of the time, the NHS is something to be proud of and celebrated
Dr Hamish Wilson
NHS Scotland 60th anniversary steering group chairman

One of the facts and figures on the website is that most nurses in the 19th century workhouses collected their wages in beer.

Dr John Marks, who graduated as a doctor on 5 July, 1948, said: "You would have men walking around with trusses holding these colossal hernias in. They were like that because they couldn't afford to have it done."

Ms Sturgeon and public health minister Shona Robison are set to take part in events on the day of the anniversary.

There will also be a multi-faith service held in Edinburgh's St Giles Cathedral on Sunday July 6 to celebrate the anniversary, with roadshows also being staged across the country.

The website will contain a section for users to post their own contribution to the NHS story.

It charts where Scotland was before the introduction of the NHS.

About half of the country's landmass was already covered by a state-funded health system - the Highlands and Islands Medical Service - which was set up in 1913 to combat the lack of medical and nursing facilities in the crofting counties.

Tax funded

Dr Hamish Wilson, who chaired the 60th anniversary steering group, said it was easy to be critical of the NHS.

"For the vast majority of people and for the vast majority of the time, the NHS is something to be proud of and celebrated," he said.

"It was also about reminding ourselves of the original principles around which the NHS was built.

"These principles are still maintained today - the service is essentially funded by taxation and available to people on a comprehensive basis across Scotland."

The NHS was introduced across the UK by the post-war Labour Government in 1948.

It did not create any new beds, doctors or nurses, but nationalising the existing system meant services were freely available for everyone.

It meant 500,000 Scots were able to have free spectacles within four months of its inception, while 500,000 also got free dentures in the first year.


SEE ALSO
NHS History: The 1970s
11 Jul 02 |  The Service

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