The NHS at 70: A Digital Archive

Since 1948, the NHS has been central to our health and to our lives. Through crowdfunding, a group of historians and heritage professionals hope to create the first digital archive of this unique service.

Share NHS at 70 is a national programme of work documenting the history of the NHS by collecting stories from staff and service users Click To Tweet Through crowdfunding, a group of historians and heritage professionals hope to create the first digital archive of the NHS Click To Tweet Find out how to help save the history of the NHS by sponsoring NHS at 70 Click To Tweet

On 5 July 1948, the NHS was born. Built on the principle that healthcare should be free for all citizens at the point of access, the NHS has touched all of our lives whether it be as staff members or patients.

It started with a plan to bring together hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists under one national service. However, it has gone on to do so much more including establishing the first mass vaccination programme, the UK’s first heart transplant, and providing an environment for advances in  research that have benefited patients’ lives.

NHS at 70

NHS at 70 is a national programme of work led by a team at The University of Manchester. It was borne out of the fact that there is currently no museum or public space dedicated to the history of the NHS despite it being such an integral part of public life.

The programme presents a new approach to documenting the history of the NHS, collecting stories from both staff members and service users across the UK from the last 70 years. These stories are being used to form a Digital Archive of experiences which is accessible to the public.

Dr Stephanie Snow, director of NHS at 70, has been working on this research since 2017 alongside project manager Dr Angela Whitecross and a team of historians and heritage professionals. The project recently won ‘Best Project’ at the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement celebration held by The University of Manchester.

The Story of Our Lives

The Archive currently features more than 700 oral history interviews, both positive and negative, about the unique part the NHS has played in people’s lives over the last 70 years. The recordings are accompanied by documents, images and films that form part of each story.

Joyce Thompson, both a former staff member and patient of the NHS reflects on her experiences over the years, stating “I don’t think there would be much life for people without the NHS”.

The project team has trained around 100 volunteers who have given over 7,200 hours of their time to the project to date. Over the next phase of the project, they hope to train more volunteers in digital storytelling skills so that more history can be captured and more engagement can be supported across localities.

Crowdfunding Help

The project is supported by various local and national organisations such as the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Stroke Association and Age UK.

However, in order to expand this important historical initiative, the team need help to raise £75,000. So they have turned to The University of Manchester’s crowdfunding platform.

The money will not only be used to train new volunteers and maintain the archive, but also to design, build and curate a ‘Moments of Care’ exhibition, transport the exhibition to various venues across the UK and create an ‘NHS at 70’ film.

You can support the crowdfunding project by sponsoring it now until 1 March 2020.

One thought on “The NHS at 70: A Digital Archive

  1. An excellent piece of written work very well documented and a reminder to us all just how important our NHS is to all of us.

    Thank you Amy.

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