The NHS was launched on 5 July 1948, by the then Health Secretary, Aneurin Bevan, at Park Hospital in Manchester. For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella to provide services for free at the point of delivery. To celebrate 70 years of the NHS, we've been hearing from some of the people who have helped to shape it.
Christine McGuire graduated as a nurse from Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1968. Here, she recounts her training, career and the friends she made along the way.
"We were the April '68 set"
"We all gathered in the School of Nursing on our first day and subsequently spent six weeks in school and then onto the wards – we worked as part of the ward team. We were educated at intervals in the School of Nursing and undertook four years of training which gave us SRN and RSCN qualifications. The SRN exam was at the end of Year 3 and the RSCN at the end of Year 4.
"We all lived in accommodation in Guildford Street, which I believe is now offices. All meals were provided – there was even hot food cooked for those on night duty. I believe that a strong bond grew between us all as we all lived so close together. There was even a pay cheque at the end of the month... mine was £12!
"An interview with Matron was required to get onto the course and it was not essential to have qualifications – I left school at 16 with two GCE's and gained a National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB) qualification. Obviously, the training and education requirements have changed enormously in the years since we graduated.
Friends for life
"We have met a few times over the years and I have contact with about 27 of the group. We met this time in the Montague Hotel just off Russell Square with 21 attendees. We found it hard to believe it was 50 years since we first met!
"A few of us are still working in paediatric nursing but most of the group are retired and look back fondly on those four years we spent training together."
If you have a story to tell, we'd love to hear it. You can get in touch via social media by using the hashtag #NHS70, or by emailing us at NHS70@gosh.nhs.uk.
There are a heap of activities planned to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS – read about our plans and discover how you can celebrate one of the nation's most-loved institutions by visiting the NHS 70 website.