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NHS at 70: The Story of Our Lives

NHS at 70 will create the first shared social history of the NHS. Through collecting stories and artefacts from NHS patients and workers as well as politicians and the general public, the project will record its unique place in everyday, post-war British life. The 70th anniversary of the NHS in 2018 is a perfect opportunity to celebrate its past and reflect on its present and future.

The NHS was created in 1948 to provide free and universal access to healthcare. It shapes our experiences of birth, life, health, sickness and death. It is the UK’s largest employer; around one in 35 of the current working population is an NHS employee.

The lived experiences of workers, patients, volunteers and the public encapsulate a unique part of British history that has worldwide importance. But, although the NHS’s political and policy history has been well studied by historians, we know little about the human stories that lie at the heart of the NHS.

We urgently need to capture the stories of the first generations who worked and were cared for by this unique institution as they are now in their eighties and nineties. We also need to capture the experiences of many communities of patients and workers that have barely featured in NHS histories to date. This includes disabled people, people with mental health illnesses, workers from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups, support staff, trade unions, campaigners and the thousands of volunteers who work in the NHS.

NHS at 70 is supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Get involved

We are collecting stories from a diverse range of people and communities who have worked for and/or been treated by the NHS. Get in touch to share your story now and be part of NHS history!

tel: 0161 275 0560

Find out more

Who we are

NHS at 70 is being led by Dr Stephanie Snow from the University's Centre of History for Science, Technology and Medicine.

Team members include Angela Whitecross, James McSharry and Alicia Rouverol.

What we are doing

Our multi-partner project will train 160 people, young and old, from all walks of life, to collect stories and artefacts from the NHS’s 70-year history.

Seventy young people aged 14-25 will act as Community Reporters, filming stories in their local area. These testimonies, from everyday users and workers in the health service, to key policymakers, MPs and trade union officials, will contribute to a multimedia, publicly accessible record of the NHS, filling existing gaps in its history, and recording the personal stories that make the service so unique.

A major component of the project will be the creation of an innovative new website which will allow the public to submit their stories of the NHS by uploading recordings, photos and documents. The website will act as a hub for existing and previous histories of the NHS.

We will also create a touring exhibition, a programme of events and 40-minute feature film.

Our initial development work will focus on the North West of England and South Wales, working with Age UK, the Mental Health Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, the Stroke Association, NHS England, the NHS Confederation, the TUC and Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations.

Partners and collaborators

NHS at 70 has been created with the support of a very wide range of partners and collaborators:

  • Age UK
  • Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust
  • Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations
  • British Library Sound Archive
  • Evans Woolfe Media
  • History & Policy network
  • Joanna Bornat, Professor Emeritus, Open University
  • John Tosh, Professor of History, University of Roehampton
  • Mental Health Foundation
  • NHS England
  • NHS Confederation
  • Nick Patrick, New Heritage Solutions CIC
  • Nick Ware, Documentary Producer, former BBC Commissioner and Consultant, Wellcome Trust
  • People’s Voice Media
  • Rethink Mental Illness
  • Roberta Bivins, Professor of History, University of Warwick
  • Sarah Lowry, Oral Historian
  • Stroke Association
  • The People’s History Museum
  • TUC Library
  • TUC

Latest news

The project has officially launched, and we have received coverage in The Guardian and local television channel That's Manchester TV.

We have an exhibition in March titled: NHS at 70: The Story of Our Lives. Download the flyer (PDF 364kb).

View the launch press release.


Stay up to date

Follow the NHS at 70 project on Twitter and Facebook.