30 June 2023
This year, 2023, marks seventy-five years of the NHS – the National Health Service. So here we are and Swindon Celebrates NHS75.
Swindon of course has a long history of healthcare – and leisure provision. You can read all about that in this blog, A Swindon Health and Leisure industry.
But in this post the focus is on a GWR Medical fund exhibition that the Mechanics’ Institution Trust are staging for your delectation and edification!
While it isn’t true to describe Swindon as the birthplace of the NHS – other places contributed to this idea of a subscription health service – the medical fund society was influential for sure. That’s because Swindon was one of the first places to offer hospital care run by the workers themselves. Contributions from the workers via payroll deduction paid for it. These funds ran the hospital and other health services.
An extract from Secret Swindon: https://swindonian.me/my-swindon-publications/secret-swindon/
The only influence on the NHS, Swindon may not have been. But what we can say is this:
‘”From cradle to grave” is an expression synonymous with the NHS. Yet Swindon can lay claim to offering that level of care decades before Britain got its NHS. The GWR Medical Fund Society gave an inclusive health service for 101 years before the NHS came into being.
It was healthcare ahead of its time, so much so that when Nye Bevan visited Swindon to see the health provision the MFS provided he famously commented “There it was. A complete health service. All we had to do was expand it to the whole country”.’
What’s occurring then?
Well, there’s detailed information on the Eventbrite link above. And check out these images below.
Swindon’s story is one that isn’t, I don’t think, one that’s told enough. I don’t think it’s possible to tell it enough. It’s one of which we should all be proud. It makes me so sad, when I see people comment on social media that they’re not proud to come from Swindon. Worse that they’re embarrassed to come from Swindon.
How can anyone not be proud that their town was built on men who walked here from all parts of the country knowing only that there was opportunity? And from that they built a community. They built the great GWR Works and those locomotives. Further they built arts and culture and a lending library and ….. drum roll please … the medical fund society and all that, that brought with it.
There’s so much more of which Swindonians should be proud of course – and you’ll find a lot of it here on this blog if you take a bit of time to root through the arts/culture/heritage posts: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/
But for now – be sure to get to at least one of these events (I’m out of town sadly) to help Swindon celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS – and Swindon’s role in its creation.