Publish date: 04 July 2023

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On Wednesday 5 July 2023 the NHS will be 75 years old.

When it was founded in 1948, the NHS was the first universal health system to be available to all, free at the point of delivery. Treating over a million people a day in England, the NHS touches us all. Alongside the national celebrations, UCLH is getting involved in marking the milestone birthday. Our arts and heritage team, which is supported by UCLH Charity, has collaborated with different partners to mark the birthday – see below for a snapshot of how we are celebrating the birthday year:

UCLH Windrush Family History Project – 22 June

22 June marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush, the first of several ships bringing immigrants from the former colonies to the UK. Many of the passengers went on to work in the NHS, established two weeks later.

UCLH asked the London Metropolitan Archives and Ancestry to partner on a project to enable staff conduct research into their past.

NHS at 75 – a look back through the archives

30 June – 6 September, UCLH Street Gallery, 235 Euston Road

The UCLH archives tell the story of how healthcare has evolved over time, illustrating some of the barriers that many people faced in accessing medical treatment before the NHS was established, and enabling us to further appreciate its impact and achievements.

Who cares for Camden? A portrait exhibition

4 July -10 August

Camden is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the NHS with an exhibition to showcase the achievements and contributions of past and present workers in Camden and 20 UCLH employees are among the participants.

The exhibition will be showing at Outernet London between 4 and 9 July and then move to Camden Townhall from 10 July to 10 August. It will include a series of powerful moving photographs taken by Rankin alongside voiceovers to explain the history and accomplishments of the service over the past 75 years, and will explore the different forms of care, including who gives care, what it means to care, what motivates people to help others, and how communities can care for the NHS.

The NHS at 75: Covid Memories – BBC Radio 4

4 July, 9pm and 5 July, 3.30pm

This radio programme pulls together some of the writing of NHS staff while battling the Covid pandemic. Poems, prose, diary entries, small observations on the back of envelopes; some of this testimony – thoughtful, moving, scared, despairing, hopeful and proud – is collated in this programme.

Emergency department nurse and poet Piers Harrison-Reid interweaves the writings of fellow NHS workers with his own specially composed poem that is a testimony to this most extraordinary of times.

Artist screen print workshop

5 July – NHS birthday, 1 – 3pm, University College Hospital

Artist Adam Bridgland will be running a live screen printing demonstration celebrating the NHS’s birthday.

NHS Big Tea

5 July, 2 - 4pm, University College Hospital

We will be wishing the NHS a very happy birthday with celebratory tea and cake.

Music performance

5 July, 12 - 1pm, University College Hospital

Performers from Music in Hospitals and Care: Léonie Adams & Michael Higgins (cello & piano accompanist)

UCLH/GOSH staff choir summer performance

Friday 7 July, 7pm

The UCLH and GOSH Staff Choir will be ending NHS 75 week with their end of term Summer performance at The Old Church, Church Street, Stoke Newington N16 9ES. Tickets available here.

The NHS: Who Cares? – BBC Radio 4

Monday 10, 17, 24, 31 July at 9am and 9.30pm

In this four-part documentary, Kevin Fong explores the challenges the NHS faces today from the perspective of the people who deliver the care, busting some myths along the way.