5th July 2023 marks 75 years of the NHS (National Health Service).

Treating over a million people a day in England, the NHS touches all of our lives.

Since 1948, the NHS has always evolved and adapted to meet the needs of each successive generation.

From Britain’s first kidney transplant in 1960, to Europe’s first liver transplant in 1968.

From the world’s first CT scan on a patient in 1971, revolutionising the way doctors examine the body, to the world’s first test-tube baby born in 1978.

Large-scale vaccination programmes protected children from whooping cough, measles and tuberculosis, and in 1999 the meningitis C vaccine was offered nationally in a world first.

The NHS has delivered huge medical advances, including the world’s first liver, heart and lung transplant in 1987, pioneering new treatments, such as bionic eyes and, in more recent times, the world’s first rapid whole genome sequencing service for seriously ill babies and children.

1948 NHS is born, providing healthcare services that are free for all at the point of delivery
1949 Ministries of Health and Labour, with the Colonial Office, the General Nursing Council and the Royal College of Nursing begin a massive recruitment drive throughout the West Indies to recruit staff to the NHS
1953 DNA’s structure is discovered by two Cambridge University scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick, revolutionising the study of disease caused by the defective genes. The discovery included vital work from Rosalind Franklin
1956 Polio immunisation programme begins
The first kidney dialysis is performed by Frank Parsons at Leeds General Infirmary, marking the opening of the first artificial kidney unit in the UK
1957 Whooping cough immunisation programme begins
1958 Polio and diphtheria vaccination programmes ensure that everyone under 15 is vaccinated
The first successful cardiopulmonary by-pass programme in the UK began at the Hammersmith Hospital, London
1960 The first kidney transplant takes place at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, involving identical twins
First implantable heart pacemaker is used
1962 The first full hip replacement is carried out by Professor John Charnley at Wrightington Hospital in Wigan
1963 West Cumberland Hospital opens in Whitehaven. It is then officially opened by the Queen Mother in October 1964.
1967 The first successful treatment for rhesus disease of the newborn, which causes serious health problems including deafness and blindness.
1968 Measles vaccine is introduced
The first heart transplant is carried out by South African-born surgeon Donald Ross at the National Heart Hospital in London
Europe’s first liver transplant performed by Professor Sir Roy Calne at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge
1972 CT scans revolutionise the way doctors examine the body, allowing three-dimensional images to be produced from a large series of two-dimensional X-rays
1973 Number of cases of whooping cough falls to nearly zero due to immunisation programme
1975 Princess Anne opens an extension to the Cumberland Infirmary
1978 The world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, is born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England as a result of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), developed by Dr Patrick Steptoe
1979 The first successful bone marrow transplant on a child is carried out by Professor Roland Levinsky at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London
UK heart transplant programme began at Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire by surgeon Sir Terence English
1980 MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans are introduced
Keyhole surgery is used successfully for the first time to carry out the removal of a gall bladder
1983 UK liver transplant programme begins
First combined heart and lung transplant in the UK performed by Prof Sir Magdi Yacoub at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex
1986 Artificial heart programme began at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex
First lung-only transplant in Europe carried out by Prof John Dark at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle
1987 The world’s first heart, lung and liver transplant is carried out by Professor Sir Roy Calne and Professor John Wallwork at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge
Britain’s first ever purpose-built AIDS ward is opened at the Middlesex Hospital by Princess Diana
Britain’s first successful heart transplant baby is operated on at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle
1988 Free breast screening is introduced to reduce breast cancer deaths in women over 50, the first of its kind in the world
1992 Vaccine against Haemophilius influenzae type B (Hib), a cause of childhood meningitis, is introduced to vaccination programme
World’s first laser surgery on babies in the womb to treat potentially fatal twin to twin transfusion syndrome takes place at King’s College Hospital, London
1994 The NHS Organ Donor Register is set up for people wishing to donate their organs
1999 UK becomes first country in the world to use a vaccine against Group C meningococcal disease
2000 NHS walk-in centres are introduced to offer easy access to a range of services
2001 Prime Minister Tony Blair opens the new Cumberland Infirmary. It was the first UK PFI Hospital to be bond financed.
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is formed, bringing together hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven.
2002 First successful treatment of a child in the UK by gene therapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London
2006 NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme launched for those aged 60-69, the first ever screening programme to target both men and women
2007 Introduction of robotic arm leads to ground-breaking heart operations for patients with fast or irregular heartbeats
First living donor in the UK at St James’ Hospital in Leeds when David Lomas, 20, donated part of his liver to his father Stephen, 50, who had advanced liver disease
St James’s Institute of Oncology, the largest cancer centre in Europe, opens in Leeds
2008 Vaccine to prevent cervical cancer (HPV) available for all schoolgirls aged 12
2010 UK’s first cochlear implant operation to provide hearing in both ears
2011 Successful trial of an artificial pancreas
UK’s first Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) operation performed – Beau Britton, seven, from Cornwall is the first child to be funded by a local NHS trust for the neurological procedure
2012 Announcement of DNA mapping for cancer patients and rare diseases (100,000 genomes project)
First UK hand transplant – a surgical team at Leeds General Infirmary carried out the operation
2013 Cancer Drugs Fund is established creating a national list of approved fast-track drugs giving uniform access to treatment across the country
2015 New £90m West Cumberland Hospital opens in October which is the first phase of the redevelopment programme
2016 First double hand transplant performed at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust
NHS England funded Bionic Eye Surgery
2017 Roll out of mechanical thrombectomy enabling stroke patients in England to receive revolutionary new treatment
NHS England announces world’s largest single PrEP implementation trial to prevent HIV infection
2018 NHS England announces children in England will be the first in the Europe to access CAR-T, marking the beginning of a new era of personalised cancer medicine
2019 NHS England strikes world leading deal to enable everyone with Hepatitis C to receive curative treatment at a cost-effect price which will enable England to eliminate it before 2030
NHS England funds first ever treatment for children with spinal muscular atrophy
NHS England strikes deal for a first-in-a-new-generation of gene therapies which can cure blindness in children
Patients in England living with cystic fibrosis are given access to all three licenced treatments
North Cumbria University Hospitals and Cumbria Partnership merge to become North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
2020 First known case of COVID-19 reported in the UK – in December, Margaret Keenan becomes the first person in the world to receive a COVID-19 jab outside of a clinical trial. Margaret was closely followed by Agnes Hardy from Whitehaven.
NHS launches a call for volunteers to become NHS Volunteer Responders
The NHS becomes the first health system in the world to commit to become carbon net zero
2021 The first treatment for sickle cell disease in over 20 years is rolled out to patients in England with life-saving benefits
Dexamethasone, discovered as an effective treatment for COVID-19 in a clinical trial in the NHS, saves one million lives worldwide
The first climate-friendly baby is born in Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust New cancer centre
The Northern Centre for Cancer Care – opens on the site of the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle

New breast surgery technique pioneered at West Cumberland Hospital

NHS England strikes a deal for the ‘world’s most expensive drug’ that can offer babies and young children with metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) the prospect of a normal life
The NHS conducts the first net zero operation at Solihull Hospital
The Innovative Medicines Fund, which will enable faster patient access to promising new drugs, is launched
The 100th cancer drug is fast tracked to patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund
NHS treats first sickle cell disease patients with life-changing drug
NHS staff honoured with George Cross by Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle.
Construction work started on the second £40m phase of the redevelopment of West Cumberland Hospital.

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