History KS3 / GCSE: The Foundation of the National Health Service

A 15-year-old girl called Kirsty explores how the National Health Service was founded in 1948 and the effect it had on the health of British people.

She talks to her grandmother, who was diagnosed with tuberculosis following a routine NHS x-ray, and received free treatment that she would not otherwise have been able to afford.

Kirsty meets three nurses, who talk about health before the service was introduced, and how many people could not afford medical treatment. One of them recalls treating Prime Minister Clement Attlee in an NHS hospital.

Medical historian Dr Carole Reeves puts these memories into context, talking about the political difficulties of getting the NHS introduced, and the opposition from doctors at the time.

Kirsty then visits the British Dental Association, and finds out about the poor state of the nation's teeth at the time. The huge backlog in people needing dental treatment led to a charge for dentist appointments.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be used to set up a discussion about the NHS. Students could write a list of positive and negative points for having a national health service.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 / GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 3, 4 and 5 in Scotland.

Some of the social issues highlighted could also be relevant for teacher Citizenship, PSHE or Modern Studies.