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Northumbria looks back to mark NHS anniversary

Wednesday, 01 July, 2020
Northumbria looks back to mark NHS anniversary

A North East NHS trust is looking back across the history of one of England’s wildest border regions to see how healthcare has been shaped over the centuries, as part of the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

On July 5th, it will be 72 years since the NHS began and many people will be taking this opportunity to reflect and remember some of the sacrifices made during recent months in the battle against the global pandemic.


The Covid-19 pandemic and public lockdown have created significant difficulties for everyone, so this anniversary offers the opportunity to look back even further and reflect on the role of health and care on the lives of Northumbrians over the centuries.


Northumbria Healthcare is working with awarding winning author and historian Dr Dan Jackson to explore the fascinating history of medicine and care in the region in a story that takes us back as far as Roman times.


The aim is to publish The History of Healthcare in Northumbria: From Hadrian’s Wall to the 21st Century that explores how healthcare has played a vital role in the collective history of Northumberland and Tyneside.


In modern times Northumbria is one of the country’s largest and most innovative healthcare providers, which has twice been rated as ‘outstanding’ by national healthcare regulator the Care Quality Commission.


However, in the grand sweep of history the NHS is a relatively new development and for much of the county’s past healthcare relied on local philanthropy, the workhouse or going even further back – Roman Army hospitals dotted along Hadrian’s Wall.


The new work will chart Northumbrian medicine from the times of ‘valetudinaria’ hospitals, through the middle ages, Victorian times, pre-and-post war years and then after the formation of the NHS in 1948.


It will also uncover facts, stories and photos from the organisational archive as well as staff and patient anecdotes from the past.


Although the book isn’t yet complete, you can read a teaser chapter to mark the NHS 72nd anniversary: click here.


Take a look at a slideshow of historical pictures: click here


Chief executive, Sir James Mackey, said: “This project is an excellent way to mark not just the NHS anniversary, but also the long history of service to the community that health and care staff have given the public right throughout our history.


“In these past few months we have seen the NHS challenged in a way that we have never seen before, so we are all reflecting and recognising the work of people who care for others and I think getting a historical context will really support this.


“This is a fascinating piece of work celebrating health services in Northumberland and North Tyneside that I think really helps give some context to why all these services are so important to local people.”


The project is being developed by Bright Northumbria, Northumbria Healthcare’s registered charity and anyone who has stories or photographs to share about healthcare through the years should contact


Dan Jackson is a founding member of the Tynemouth WW1 Commemoration Project, which received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Author of Popular Opposition to Irish Home Rule in Edwardian Britain, he has written for the New Statesman and appeared on the BBC’s Making History and Who Do You Think You Are?. His latest book The Northumbrians: North-East England and Its People — A New History has won critical and public acclaim.

Media contact:

Jaclyn Curry – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

0191 203 1654 / 07833 046680