75 years of innovation in healthcare

This year, the National Health Service turns 75. Founded on 5 July 1948, the NHS was the first universal health system to be available to all, free at the point of delivery. It was groundbreaking then and it continues to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of each generation.

Since the inception of the AHSN NENC, we have been embedded within the NHS working hand-in-hand to encourage and support innovation for the benefit of communities in the North East and North Cumbria.

We are proud to support and celebrate all NHS staff and volunteers, past and present, who have played a role in making the NHS what it is today.

Dr Nicola Hutchinson, Chief Executive Officer at the AHSN NENC, said: “Summing up the importance of the NHS in a few sentences isn’t easy. We are incredibly lucky to live in a country that offers free access to healthcare. On a personal level, it is a service that has supported myself, my family and my friends many times over the years, and for that I will forever be grateful to every single member of staff that devotes their working lives to the NHS.

“Professionally, I am privileged to be able to work closely with NHS colleagues across the region and beyond. Innovation has been at the core of the NHS from day one – from Britain’s first kidney transplant in 1960 to the world’s first test-tube baby born in 1978. I am proud that for the last ten years the AHSNs have played a pivotal role in supporting the development, spread and adoption of innovations within the NHS. And as we look to the future, we’re excited to continue to drive health innovation across the region working closely with the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board. Here’s to the next 75 years!”

To mark 75 years of the NHS, we asked AHSN NENC staff to share their stories about how the NHS has made a difference to them:

Rachael Forbister

I class myself as a young woman (although I’m nearly 50!). I’m fairly healthy, physically active and eat a good, varied diet. But despite my lifestyle, I’ve had 3 major health issues and each time the NHS has been there for me, treated me and helped me recover. In my early 40s, I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, which was treated via an ablation. At 45 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was caught early, phew! I slipped a disc at 47 causing chronic pain, which was treated with pain meds, injections and an amazing pain consultant. This last one was the most debilitating.

I think of myself as the lucky one! Things were caught early and the NHS has been there to look after me and help me live a long life.

Mark Pattison

Having significantly benefited from life-saving cancer treatment, I am immeasurably thankful for the healthcare system that we have through the NHS.

Joanne Famelton

I will be forever grateful to the NHS for the care, support and treatment they provided during a 2 year period when my father was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour. From diagnosis, prognosis, operation and therapies through to when he passed away they were wonderful.

Carol Bean

In May 2020 my mam (who was a very fit 84-year-old) took very poorly, very quickly. This was during Covid lockdown. She was rushed to Darlington Hospital by ambulance and initially diagnosed with urinary sepsis. We could not go with her and all communication with the hospital was by phone. She had a scan and the diagnosis came back as very advanced bladder, kidney and liver cancer, and had 2-3 days to live. She had no symptoms or pain.

The care, compassion and empathy of the consultant to my mam and us as a family was second to none. My mam improved and was transferred to Bishop Auckland. Again, the care was fantastic. She was then discharged and came to live with us for another 8 weeks and passed away on 20th July 2020.

The care she received from the District Nursing Team was brilliant and being able to bring her home and care for her was the best thing that could have happened. It meant the world to her and me and our family.

Anna Bassett

I was born on the 50th anniversary of the NHS – 5th July 1998!

Joanne Famelton

I am forever indebted to the NHS for the care, support and ongoing treatment I receive to manage my primary lymphoedema. I have had my medical condition for over 20 years and without the NHS I would not be able to lead the daily life of making it work around what I want and need to do.

Vicki Strassheim

I’m very proud to have worked for the NHS for over 30 years and I’m grateful to the NHS for the safe delivery of my children.

Russ Watkins

The NHS is the jewel in the crown of the UK. Having access to free healthcare at the point of delivery is still such an important element, especially post-Brexit and the pandemic. The cost of living issues that large parts of the UK are facing are impacting daily decisions, thankfully there is no need to decide to prioritise spending on your health in the same way you do food or heating.

Kate Mumac

As a 12-year-old in 1981, I broke my leg which was then in full plaster for eight weeks, including all of the six-week summer holiday (my poor mother!) I was kept as an inpatient for three nights and was the oldest child in the paediatric ward. When my plaster cast was removed, my knee and ankle had been immobilised for so long that they wouldn’t function, plus my leg muscles had wasted considerably. I was referred to physiotherapy and spent two hours Monday – Friday after school, plus all day during the school holidays for eight months going through rehab. I had to learn to walk again and had hydrotherapy, hands-on mobilisation and multiple exercises to get through, both in the hospital gym and at home. I was so inspired by the physiotherapists’ work that, for a short time, I flirted with the idea of becoming a physiotherapist (I was put off by the need to obtain physics GCSE!) If it hadn’t been for the intensive rehab provided by the NHS, I wouldn’t have been able to regain the full use of my leg, and potentially never been able to snowboard, horse-ride, hike or ride a bike. That period of my life is now a long-time ago, but I am forever grateful to the NHS.