Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 17:41 UK

The birth of a baby and the NHS


Aneira Thomas, the first baby born on the NHS 60 years ago, meets new arrivals at Singleton Hospital, Swansea

When Aneira Thomas's mother went into labour, the nurses pleaded with her to wait until the clock struck midnight.

Both mother and child obliged - and a minute past the hour, on 5 July 1948, the first NHS baby was born at Amman Valley Hospital, Carmarthenshire.

Naming the newborn was straightforward, the inspiration was the founding father of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan.

Sixty-years later, Mrs Thomas has kicked off celebrations to mark the foundation of Britain's health service.

Aneira Thomas, aged four
I just kept saying I was the first national health baby and didn't understand what it meant
Aneira Thomas

Visiting the modern maternity unit at Singleton Hospital in Swansea, she proudly handed out "Born in Wales" bibs to new mothers.

"As a child I never understood what the significance of it was," admitted Mrs Thomas, who now lives in Loughour, near Swansea.

"I just kept saying I was the first national health baby and didn't understand what it meant."

For her mother Edna, who spent 18 hours in labour before giving birth, it meant no longer having to shell out the one shilling and sixpence in midwifery fees.

For Edna's husband Willie, that would have made a serious dent in the 2 a week wages he earned as a miner down the Great Mountain pit in Tumble.

Just like Aneurin Bevan, Mrs Thomas is known to friends as Nye.

She said she was proud to be named after the "great man" who brought about the birth of the NHS while he was a Labour government minister and MP for Ebbw Vale.

She also said she wished she had been given the chance to meet him herself, because of "what he did for the country and working-class people."

Aneira Thomas and newborn Kimberly Davies
Mrs Thomas forged life-long links with the NHS, becoming a nurse herself

Mrs Thomas forged a life-long link with the health service becoming a mental health nurse, along with her three sisters, and her daughter is now a ambulance technician.

Her own life has been saved on two occasions when she had to be revived after suffering severe allergic reactions.

"The last one was near fatal," she said.

Sixty-years on, Mrs Thomas remains fiercely proud of the NHS, even as she admitted herself that there was always room for improvement.

"There are lots of issues that should be addressed," she stated.

"There are lots of carers at home looking after their families, some things there should be addressed.

NHS graphic
As the NHS turns 60, BBC News is giving it a health check. Watch out for reports, features and analysis on TV, radio and the web.

"When I was nursing, some of the training was called 'tender, loving care'. That would make the patient feel a bit better and put them on the road to recovery because some patients didn't have relatives.

"But on the whole I think we are very, very, fortunate."

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