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Summary

  1. The NHS will be 70 on 5 July
  2. Labour Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan founded the organisation in 1948
  3. The NHS brought doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians, dentists and hospitals together for the first time
  4. It was the first time health services were free for all at the point of delivery
  5. Share your NHS memories with us by emailing HaveYourSay@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Kris Bramwell and Patrick Evans

All times stated are UK

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  1. NHS at 70: 'My son gave my daughter his kidney'

    Adam and Emma together for the first time after the transplant
    Image caption: Adam and Emma together for the first time after the transplant

    Louise Gallis from Gornal, West Midlands, is full of praise for the Living Donor team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, after they carried out a kidney donation last February from her son Adam, 23, to her daughter Emma, 29.

    "This was such a brave and wonderful thing for Adam to do. Emma can never thank him enough.

    “Emma was born with only one kidney which later stopped working properly. Adam's donation has saved her from a lifetime of dialysis.

    "Initially me and my husband were seeing if we were matches but Adam said 'what about me’.

    “We have a different blood group to Emma but it turned out he was the perfect match.

    “He decided to step up although he was a rugby player for the county and by doing this he has sacrificed his rugby career.

    “I’m such a proud mum."

    The new kidney has given Emma a new lease of life and she has returned to work as a librarian.

  2. NHS at 70: Looking back at nursing seven decades ago

    Lorna Finlay recalls training as a nurse two years after the creation of the health service in 1948

    Video content

    Video caption: Looking back at nursing seven decades ago

    In 1950, two years after the creation of the health service in Northern Ireland, Lorna Finlay began training as a nurse.

    Now aged 90, she recalls what it was like, and how it has changed in the past seven decades.

  3. NHS at 70: 'You have to forget about the last job or you'd have nightmares'

    Former paramedic Ron Saddington remembers rescuing a paralysed woman from a car

    Ron Saddington reversing a mobile oxygen unit into an ambulance
    Image caption: Ron Saddington (right) checking a mobile oxygen unit and taking it into a Austin Princess ambulance in 1975.

    “I was an ambulanceman in Suffolk in the 1970s and late one night we got a call to Leavenheath where a car had taken a corner sharply and gone sideways into a ditch.

    “When we got there the driver was fine but he told me his 18-year-old girlfriend was still in the car.

    “My colleague helped me open the car door and get in.

    “I was holding the girl’s hand to reassure her but I noticed she couldn’t feel that I was doing this and after checking, I realised that she was paralysed.

    “The police and the fire service cut the roof back on the car with a saw and I was talking to her to reassure her because of the noise and the sparks flying.

    “We got her out of the car on a carry sheet and on to a stretcher which keeps the body in a fixed position.

    “Any movement could have killed her because her spinal cord was broken.

    “We took her to Colchester Hospital and I’d love to know what happened to her.

    “As an ambulance driver you have to forget about the last job in order to be able to move on to the next, otherwise you’d have nightmares."

  4. NHS at 70: 'Hospital corners' and injecting oranges

    Marion Kirby takes us back to her nurse training in the late1950s

    Marion Kirby in her nurses uniform

    “I started as a trainee nurse in 1959 with seven others in Chertsey, in Surrey.

    “We were very excited to receive our blue and white short-sleeved dress uniforms.

    “Our starched white caps had to be folded precisely. The sister would always notice if they were out of place.

    “A key part of the nurse’s uniform was the heavy, woollen, black cloak with red lining. If we were out in public we couldn’t be seen without our cloaks but we were warm as toast in the winter.

    “There were 12 weeks of training at Highfield House in West Byfleet and we shared rooms there.

    “After breakfast we swept the floors or cleaned the bathrooms. Then we’d go off to class for anatomy, physiology or practical skills lessons.

    “Practical skills took place inside a ‘mock’ ward and we’d learn how to roll bandages and make beds hospital envelope corners.

    “Our patient was a female dummy.

    “We practised taking each other’s blood pressure and used to lift and turn one another as we would the patients.

    “Injections were performed on an orange.

    “We’d spend one day every week on the wards at St. Peter’s Hospital in Surrey.

    “I used to feel quite squeamish because we’d travel there by mini bus sometimes with a crate of blood to deliver too.

    “The radio would be on in the mornings and the patients on the wards would ask what our favourite songs were or comment on the ones being played.

    “The wards were cleaned thoroughly every day and the beds were made each morning ready for matron’s inspection and the doctor’s round.”

  5. NHS at 70: ‘My engagement ring fitted round his hand’

    Katie Jones said it was an emotional rollercoaster when her son was born 13 weeks early

    Jon and Katie Jones with their son Ray when her was born, and Ray on a swing at 13 months-old
    Image caption: Jon and Katie Jones with their son Ray when her was born, and Ray at 13 months-old.

    “Ray was born in May 2017 at 27 weeks and weighed just 900g (31oz).

    “I never went into labour really. I went for a scan at the University Hospital of Wales only to be told I was staying in for ‘bed rest’.

    “Half an hour later I was sent to a sent to a delivery suite for a caesarean section.

    “Ray was born at 21:15 (BST) but I didn’t get to see him until 11:00 the following morning.

    “He was having trouble breathing. His lungs were so small they were sticking together so he was put on a ventilator. He was also jaundiced and had amongst other things chronic lung disease.

    “The experience was an emotional rollercoaster for me because I had no control over what was happening to my son.

    “My husband went to check on him while he was hooked up to a ventilator and a doctor brought me a photograph of him with his weight on it, that’s the only connection I had with him a the tiem when he was born.

    “Five days later I was discharged but the feeling of leaving hospital and not being able to take your vulnerable little one with you is beyond words.

    “My first cuddle with Ray wasn’t until he was a week old.

    “After 10 days the staff on the neonatal unit got me involved doing things.

    “But it’s scary changing a nappy when your little baby is hooked up to so many wires. He was so small and I didn’t want to hurt him.

    “My engagement ring and wedding band fitted round his hand.

    “The staff were always a shoulder to cry on no matter how busy they were.

    “Ray is doing much better now.”

  6. NHS at 70: Former nurse, 104, remembers the early days of the NHS

    Grace Cooper worked at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham, when the NHS began

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    Video caption: Nurse, 104, reflects on the early days of the NHS.

    Grace Cooper has vivid memories of working on the children's ward at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.

    The 104 year-old worked there when the NHS was formed in 1948 and has returned to see how things have changed.

  7. NHS at 70: 'Told off for singing nursery rhymes'

    Geraldine Marchesi remembers getting into trouble with the assistant matron

    Geraldine Marchesi in her nurses uniform

    “As a student nurse I was in charge overnight of the children’s ward at Sutton and Cheam Hospital in Surrey.

    “it was the late 60s and early 70s and no parents were allowed on the ward in those days. The children would miss their mums and dads terribly.

    “The kids were in for things like squints and would often be scared because they had patches over their eyes. They would be in hospital for a week back then but nowadays a squint would be done in day surgery.

    “When they woke up crying in the middle of the night, I would often cuddle them to settle them down. This would never happen now.

    “I would also sing nursery rhymes to them.One night when I was singing, the assistant matron came over in her long nightdress and asked what all the noise was for as it had woken her up.

    “I was called to her office the next morning for a telling off.”

  8. NHS at 70: Tales from a community nurse

    Sheila Harrington was a community nurse in Rickmansworth between 1997 and 2007

    Sheila Harrington

    “In my head I felt I was one of the last of the old-style bedside nurses. The patients I went to see were in their own homes and I was a visitor.

    “It was important for me to chat to them generally and to see the whole person, not just a series of medical conditions.

    “I enjoyed hearing about their wartime experiences and when they told me a story it often took their mind off some rather uncomfortable treatments.

    “Sometimes I was the only person they saw in a day and it was always sad knowing how lonely they could be with just the TV for company.

    “Because I was local I could also keep them in touch vicariously with their friends who were also housebound.

    “One patient was Marie and when I arrived one day I asked if she’d been taking her pills.

    “‘She said yes but when I checked the tablets I noticed she hadn’t taken her medication that afternoon.

    “I said to her I thought you’d said you’d taken your pills and she laughed and said: “I thought you’d asked if I’d been paying my bills!”

    “Another lady told me she’d worked in a factory during the war making parts for guns. Years later she found out that the small, round, black rings she’d been making were pessaries used to treat a pelvic organ prolapse.

    “I also visited a lovely couple but sadly the husband was terminally ill.

    “His wife took much of the responsibility for his care and looked after him lovingly until the end.

    “When he died she told me they’d been in the middle of getting divorced when he received his diagnosis and they’d agreed to stop the process

    “Nothing could have surprised me more because they seemed like such a devoted couple.

    “It was a big learning curve on my part.”

  9. 'I had the same surgeon as King George VI!'

    Syd Brown from Newcastle had tuberculosis in the 1950s

    Syd Brown
    Image caption: Syd inside a day room at Lancaster's Beaumont Isolation Hospital in 1956

    "After I was diagnosed with TB I spent 14 months in a sanatorium at the Beaumont Isolation Hospital in Lancaster. I was 20-years-old.

    "The ward was a corridor of rooms. There were two patients in each room and they looked out on to a veranda.

    "When I first arrived I was bed-bound for three months. I couldn’t even get up to go to the toilet.

    "To keep my lungs still they propped my bed up underneath with a couple of bricks and I had to lie at an angle without a pillow.

    "After three months I was allowed to spend two hours out of bed every day for the next fortnight.

    “The medical staff slowly increased the time I spent up and about until I’d reached 10 hours on my feet.

    "Usually if you managed to stay out of bed for 10 hours every day for a two week period, you were allowed to go home, but for some reason I just couldn’t manage it.

    "I was lucky though because I was young and generally physically fit so they decided to offer me lung surgery to get me through it.

    “A specialist told me that one of the surgeons who operated on me also put King George VI under the knife! How’s that for democracy?

    “I’d been told I wouldn’t play football again because of the TB but I did, and I went from an apprentice engineer at the time to become chief engineer at Newcastle University.

    “I’m now in my eighties and I can honestly say I have lived a full life."

  10. The girl who was kicked in the face by a horse

    Ron Saddington was an ambulance man between 1968 and 1980

    Ron (on the right) with the station officer stood in front of an Austin Princess ambulance in 1975
    Image caption: Ron (on the right) with the station officer stood in front of an Austin Princess ambulance in 1975

    “One of the five times I was commended as an ambulance driver involved a 12 or 13-year-old girl who’d been horse riding around a farm in Borley, Essex, in 1976.

    “She’d pulled up by the yard and got off the horse. The horse for whatever reason decided to lash out and kicked her full in the face.

    “When I got there she wasn’t breathing and was blue in the face.

    “She had no nose left, her top teeth had become her bottom teeth and her bottom teeth were blocking her airway.

    “I put the oxygen tube underneath her teeth and down her throat and blew manually into the tube to get her breathing again.

    “She went off to West Suffolk hospital and eventually had her face restructured.

    “I know she still lives on the same farm today but I keep missing her when I go round to see how she is.”

  11. NHS at 70: I became a nurse to give something back

    Marguerite Luxford became a nurse because of the care given to her dying mum

    Marguerite Luxford as an auxiliary nurse in the late 1970s
    Image caption: Marguerite Luxford (left) as an auxiliary nurse in the late 1970s

    “When my mum was in hospital with cancer a nurse’s caring attitude could make all the difference to me.

    “It was simple things like taking the flowers I’d brought from me and putting them in water without asking, rather than responding to my requests for a vase with ‘I don’t have time for that’.

    "I lived in Tilbury and Mum was in Clacton so the long journey to visit her added to the stress I felt at time.

    "When Mum died I decided I wanted to give something back and looked into becoming a nurse.

    "I eventually became an auxiliary nurse on the geriatric ward of Orsett Hospital in Grays, Essex, in the late 70s."

  12. NHS at 70: Power to St James’s Hospital

    Declan Groves tells his dad's story

    Image of Robert Groves
    Image caption: Robert Groves died in September 2017 aged 94 on one of the wards he'd worked on

    "Dad worked as an NHS electrician at St James’s University Hospital and various other hospitals in Leeds in the 1970s.

    "He was part of the team that installed the wiring and equipment on the Chancellor Wing.

    "My dad died last year on one of the wards he would’ve wired back then.

    "During my dad’s final few days the staff at St James’s were superb at caring for him.”

  13. NHS at 70: Anyone for tennis?

    Helen Tobin with her daughter Jana
    Image caption: Helen Tobin with her daughter Jana

    Arriving to give birth at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Helen Tobin had to convince the men in the waiting room to turn the television over from the 1998 World Cup to the Wimbledon tennis coverage.

    "I had refused to go to the labour suite on the 4th July until I had seen the end of the Wimbledon Ladies final where Jana Novotna had an amazing win.

    "My daughter was born after the men's final on the 5th and after several days without a name we decided to call her Jana!"

  14. NHS at 70: 'My sense of adventure got the better of me'

    Valerie Muncer lived in Tehidy Sanatorium in Cornwall for three years from 1947

    A black and white photo of the ward Valerie where spent three years of her life at Tehidy Sanatorium
    Image caption: Valerie spent three years of her life on this ward at Tehidy Sanatorium

    “I was first taken to Princess Elizabeth’s Children’s Hospital in Hackney, in 1946. And about a year later I was diagnosed with TB and transferred to a Tehidy Sanatorium in Cornwall where I spent the next three years.

    "I remember there was always music playing on the ward but there wasn’t much to do.

    "We were only allowed visitors once a week on a Sunday.

    "The sanatorium became a home to me as I was only about five or six-years-old when I was first moved in.

    "A lady called Mrs Bailey taught me to read using a blackboard that was on the ward.

    "I remember feeling frustrated living in just a bed for three years because I’ve always had a sense of adventure.

    “One day that sense of adventure got the better of me. I wheeled my bed over to the other side of the ward to see the girls and chat to them, and I manged to fall out of bed and break my ankle.

    “When I went home I do remember it seeming very strange to me as I’d been used to a large ward and not a small house.

    “Being away for so long I’d never bonded with any of my family and I had a new sister who’d been born while I was in the hospital.

    “I felt that all of my friends were in hospital and I wanted to go back there."

  15. NHS at 70: 'Reduced to nothing more than a skeleton'

    Vikki Fenlon remembers the 'slow torture' of terminal nursing care

    Vikki Fenlon
    Image caption: Vikki on night duty in 1983 at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup

    "I was a student nurse at Brook General Hospital in Woolwich, London, in 1968.

    "One day a very attractive lady came in to the general medical ward. She was in her 40s, she was well-dressed and her hair was immaculate.

    "She had come to us for terminal nursing care.

    "This included oral care where mouthwash and cotton buds would be used to clean the teeth and inside of the mouth. This lady used to say she liked it when I did this for her because I was gentle.

    "I always made sure she looked as good as she could. When she became too weak to put her own lipstick on I used to do it for her so that she looked her best for any visitors.

    "The two months she spent in hospital was like a slow torture for me. I found it really distressing to watch the woman I’d seen walk in be reduced to little more than a skeleton.

    "Part of the treatment included the Brompton cocktail which was morphine combined with brandy amongst other things for the patient to drink to help reduce the pain.”

  16. NHS at 70: 'They made me believe the impossible was possible'

    Kieran Morgan went on to qualify as a racing driving after learning to talk, walk and drive again

    On the left a photo of Kieran Morgan and on the right an image of him racing at Silverstone in 2017
    Image caption: Kieran Morgan competed in a race at Silverstone in July 2017

    “It was a dream come true to race at Silverstone in 2017. It was one of those bucket list things I never thought was possible.

    “I remember not that long before when I was in rehab and the physio said ‘you’ve kind of got nothing to lose now’. It gave me that ultimate goal I needed to get driving again after what I’d been through.

    “In November 2014 I found myself in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Blackpool Victoria Hospital with pneumonia which hadn’t been spotted right away.

    “The medication I was on to treat my Crohn’s disease and arthritis had weakened my immune system.

    “I was in an induced coma for seven or eight weeks. The pneumonia caused lung failure and my body wasted away as it went into survival mode to protect my heart and lungs.

    “My time in ICU was extensive. I spent four months on a ventilator and was in a constant fight for my life.

    “There were points when my parents were told that I was going to die.

    “It was thought highly likely that I would never breathe without the ventilator again. I’d also been left completely paralysed and wasn’t expected to walk. But the doctors always said they were just going to try this or that. They never gave up on me.

    “When I woke up from my coma I saw I was on a ventilator. I couldn’t move or talk.

    “I remember feeling shocked and frustrated at not being able to move, especially not being able to move my hands. It was like being in a permanent bad mood.

    “To start with I could only communicate with family, doctors and nurses by blinking. And then I moved on to scribbling notes on a pad of paper.

    “Because of the amount of muscle wastage in my legs the doctors told me I’d never walk again.

    “Walking is so natural; you’re born to do it, so having to teach your brain to walk again is a bizarre feeling.

    “I had a brilliant physio and outreach rehab team.

    “They set me goals all the time and now, not only am I walking and driving again but I've got my racing driver licence.

    “They made me believe the impossible was possible and I don’t think I’d be as independent as I am now without them.”

  17. NHS at 70: 'Mum's rose showed that staff cared and sent their love'

    Ken Pollock talks about the death of his mum

    Ken's parents Stan Pollock and Frances Pollock in 1945.
    Image caption: Ken's parents Stan Pollock and Frances Pollock in 1945

    “Mum had rheumatic fever three times as a child and this continued to have an effect on her heart throughout her life.

    “She must have been in hospital thirty odd times over the years for things like blood transfusions or when she had a pacemaker fitted. They used to bring her notes in on a trolley, they were that thick.

    “Mum could only have one child because of the strain childbirth put on her heart.

    “Her consultant, who was also a doctor to King George VI, told mum she wouldn’t make 70 but she died in her 80th year.

    “Mum collapsed at home in Eastbourne and was taken to the hospital.

    “She was a typical mum and typical of that generation who’d been through the war. They were, and are, stoical. In her final hours she was more concerned about how upset I was.

    “In what I think was the emergency room at the Eastbourne District and General Hospital, she waved me away. She didn’t want me to suffer. That was the last time I saw her conscious.

    “That day Dad and I had been at her bedside for such a long time that Dad said we should go and get some food, so we went downstairs to the restaurant. We were only gone about half an hour but when we came back we were told Mum had died.”

    “As we approached her bed we saw that one of the nurses had placed a tiny red rose across her hands.

    “I never did find out which nurse did that. It was a beautiful thing to do and it told me that the staff cared and sent their love.”

  18. NHS at 70: The ambulance crew who saved my girl

    A mum and daughter go back to meet the paramedics who saved the little girl's life when her heart stopped

    Video content

    Video caption: The ambulance crew who saved my girl

    A mum and daughter have gone back to meet the paramedics who saved the little girl's life.

    The ambulance crew was called out when little Beth Stevenson, from Edinburgh, suffered sudden heart failure.

  19. NHS at 70: Caring through the generations

    Hella Reissmann started a family tradition when she answered an advert to join the new NHS

    Photos of Hella and Karen Reissmann
    Image caption: Hella and Karen Reissmann

    Karen Reissmann followed in her mum's footsteps into the NHS and started as a student psychiatric nurse in January 1982 at Springfield Hospital, an old workhouse and asylum in north Manchester.

    “In 1949 an advert went out across Germany asking for people to work as mental health nurses and cleaners in the new NHS, they were desperate for them.

    “My German mum Hella replied to the ad.

    “I’m told two coach loads of people from Germany arrived in York ready to work because of that call out.

    “Mum became a geriatric nurse specialist and fought for the rights of patients in her care.

    "The first ward I worked on was a 'psycho-geriatric' or older age mental health ward which only had two toilets for 20 patients.

    "Given many of the patients could not go to the toilet without assistance, there used to be five commodes placed in a circle in a curtained off bed area and the patients used to go to the toilet watching each other.

    "Some people naturally found toilet time uncomfortable; I know I couldn’t go to the toilet with everybody watching me.

    "I remember after 13 weeks of this, coming away and realising to myself that I wasn’t shocked by the set up anymore.

    "I was horrified that it took only three months for me to become institutionalised."

  20. NHS at 70: Early patient pays tribute to life saving treatment

    As the NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary one of its first patients recalls her life-saving treatment

    Video content

    Video caption: NHS at 70: Early patient pays tribute to life saving treatment

    Seventy years ago the NHS came into being and for the first time there was a free health service for all.

    A lot has changed since then with people living longer and surviving diseases and conditions which might have killed them in 1948.

    Beryl Kingston, now 87, was there at the very beginning and received life-saving treatment just weeks following the rollout of the NHS.