A new display marking the 70th anniversary of the NHS has been installed in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) museum.
‘To universalise the best: the NHS at 70’ looks at medication options prior to the NHS, the background to its introduction, and how pharmacists and the public reacted to the new service.
We show the kind of things that were in use in the early 1900s, when there were still relatively few effective medicines around,” said Matthew Johnston, museum documentation assistant. “One promotes itself as being an instant and permanent cure for consumption (i.e. tuberculosis), when actually the first effective treatment, streptomycin, was only introduced during the first year of the NHS.”
Other objects include Nurse Lilly’s Female Pills, dating from between 1915 and 1940, which were sold ostensibly for amenorrhea but widely used to induce abortion. The 1985 Black List, which lists the medicines — including Disprin and Benylin — that were no longer to be prescribed on the NHS, can also be viewed.
“My personal favourites are the newspaper cuttings from just before and just after the launch of the NHS,” said Johnston. “They’re actually pretty scathing about the new health service. One gives the view of an American visitor who predicts that ‘socialised medicine in Britain will collapse within five years’. That’s a bit negative, but I think it’s fascinating!”
On 5 July 2018, the RPS will be offering free museum tours to employees and the public. These will start at 11:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:00, and places can be
reserved on the RPS website.