On 5 July 2018, the National Health Service celebrated its 70th birthday. For most British people today, life (or death) without the NHS would be unimaginable. Only relatively few in our society now remember what society was like before we had a health service free at the point of delivery.
The birthday was a time to celebrate the NHS and all that it has done for us, and also an opportunity to reflect on how well it works, what we would be without it and how it contributes to our national identity. The BBC broadcast ‘How the NHS Changed Our World’ , a 5-part series featuring some of the UK’s pioneering hospitals and services. But there was also a bit of light-hearted programming, with ‘Britain’s Best Junior Doctors’ , billed as the first medical-themed quiz show. This week-long series pitted teams of junior doctors from different teaching hospitals as they are tested on their knowledge and skill in the battle of the stethoscopes. It concluded with the two highest-scoring teams in a cut-throat final.
‘Celebrities On The NHS Frontline’, a two-part series for BBC One, followed ex-politician Ann Widdecombe, medical journalist Michael Mosley, reporter Stacey Dooley and Paralympic Gold medallist Jonnie Peacock as they worked alongside members of the hospital teams they have been assigned to.
‘The NHS: A People’s History’, a three-part series which tells the story of the NHS through the voices of the people whose lives it has affected, from its birth in 1948 to the present day.
In UK Confidential: The Birth of the NHS, Martha Kearney is allowed to open up the secret files at the National Archives and plot how the NHS was born amid controversy and dissent.
‘Between the Ears: The NHS Symphony’ is a fascinating idea – the activity in different departments of two hospitals, one a maternity unit, one an A&E, combines in a specially-commissioned work incorporating the singing of the NHS choir and The Bach Choir. From a baby’s heartbeat to the clink of a bedpan and the beep of a monitor, it’s the sounds of the NHS that make the music here.