Health care before the NHS was unimaginably different to how it is today.
Not only did you usually have to pay for care but the treatments on offer were very limited. More often than not, pain and discomfort were accepted as part of life to be endured with stoicism.
Hospitals supported themselves with money from charity, hospital savings schemes, fees from those who could pay and from local authority grants.
All that changed in England and Wales on Monday 5 July when the NHS came into being for the 1,143 voluntary hospitals with some 90,000 beds and 1,545 municipal hospitals with about 390,000 beds.
Instead of charity, the NHS was paid through taxation at a cost of around £400m in the first year. Today the NHS budget is £153 billion.
Hospitals had long been the focus for local charities and good works to fund the basics of care but the NHS seemed to mean they were no longer needed.
Blackpool’s Evening Gazette reported on 7 July 1948 the winding up meeting of the Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Ladies Linen Guild. They agreed to spend their last £227 on 75 pairs of sheets and 24 dozen pillowcases. The guild had been established 41 years previously and completely equipped the new Victoria hospital with linen in the five years from its opening in 1936.
Meanwhile, in Thornton Cleveleys, the Hospital Ladies’ Committee held their final meeting in Stanley Hall.
Member Mrs R. O. Nickson MBE proposed the £50 balance in their bank book be divided equally between Blackpool, Fleetwood and Rossall hospitals for “Christmas comforts”.
“This was passed unanimously,” the Evening Gazette reported on Wednesday 13 July.
The early closures proved premature as the League of Friends started at Lytham Hospital a few months after the NHS’s founding proved.
As the NHS looks forward to marking its 75th birthday, many hospitals continue to benefit from the work of their own charities, like Blue Skies Hospital Fund here at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, the goodwill and fundraising of the local community as well as the hugely valued contribution of their volunteers.
Keep up the tradition … would you like to volunteer with us?
The Trust has more than 450 active volunteers at Blackpool Victoria and Clifton hospitals, each giving at least three hours of their time a week.
These are our current vacancies.