1948: The coming of a ‘free’ health service

My latest blog post for the People’s History of the NHS website marks the anniversary of the creation of the British NHS on 5 July 1948. It looks at the contribution of the arrival of a ‘free’ health service to an era of optimism and uncertainty for health workers, including my own pet subject: medical social workers.


69 years ago today, the NHS was born. Monday 5 July 1948 was the ‘appointed day’ on which of whole raft of Labour’s postwar social reforms came into force. This included reforms of social security, pensions and, most famously, the establishment of the National Health Service.

It was a major change for the British people, and especially for the nation’s health workers, most of whom now found themselves working for a single service. But what would it mean to be working for a national(ised) service? Trying to predict the answer to that question meant a lot of raised hopes and optimism (not all met) but also a degree of uncertainty…

Read more at People’s History of the NHS: 1948 – The coming of a ‘free’ health service

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