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The Three and Sixpenny Doctor

60th Anniversary of the NHS


2008 marked the 60th anniversary of the formation of the National Health Service. An exhibition was set up to celebrate this landmark in British health care. In this project we spoke to people about their experiences and memories of life before the NHS, and the early years of the NHS. The exhibition gave context and perspective to the health service we have today.

We took the exhibition round several libraries in Edinburgh, including the Central Library on George IV Bridge and Leith Library on Ferry Road. The following pages display the materials that were produced for this exhibition. We hope you enjoy them.

Like all our work these experiences are within ‘living memory’. You will read how people were unable to afford even 3/6d for the doctor; how women gave birth at home with no medical assistance or care; how families were often large and infant mortality high. One of our contributors speaks of how three of her siblings died in childhood; one of diphtheria, one of scarlet fever, another of dysentery. For some this was the reality of everyday life in Scotland in the 1920s and 1930s. Today we sometimes forget just how radical the National Health Service was in post-war Britain and how central and important it now is in all our lives.

Miles Tubb, John McCaughie and Joyce Miller.
August 2008
Living Memory Association.

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