The National Health Service in Britain was introduced in 1948.
For the first time health care was provided free at the point of need, to all British citizens. Better food and housing contributed to better health and greater life expectancy throughout this period. More
Life expectancy increased significantly.
Children became healthier and taller, infant mortality dropped greatly and people began to live longer, bringing a new set of health and welfare issues. More
Prescription charges were introduced in 1952, as the cost of the health service rose.
These soon increased with the ever-increasing expense of providing new drugs for patients. More
Immunising against infectious diseases saw death rates fall.
Some diseases were wiped out altogether from the UK. There was a new confidence that medical science could provide the answer to many illnesses. More
Children were given free school milk, but as overall health improved this was withdrawn.
The link between poor health and children not doing well at school led, in 1946, to the government introducing one third of a pint of milk each day for every pupil under the age of 18. In the 1980s, this was no longer seen as necessary. More
Special children's wards and facilities were developed for the under 16's.
In the 1940s, sick children in hospital were placed in adult wards and were often only allowed to be visited by their parents for an hour on Saturday and/or Sunday. Some children, who were ill for a long time, forgot their parents. Now, however, this all changed. More
Some drugs and chemicals proved to cause health problems, reminding people that not all innovations were safe.
The use of the drug thalidomide, first prescribed in 1958 to prevent morning sickness during pregnancy, was found, in 1961, to cause limb deformities in babies. DDT was used extensively in WW2 to kill the insects that carried malaria and typhus. After the war it was widely used in agriculture but then found to cause problems in bird populations and was linked to cancers in humans. More
Oral contraceptives for women were introduced in the early 1960s.
These hugely changed the lives of young women. Family planning could now become the normal thing to do and couples could choose when to have their children. More
There were many advances in medical understanding, treatments amd techniques.
These included the link between heart disease and smoking, the use of ultrasound, hip replacements and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Organ transplants became possible.
The surgical treatment of diseased human organs improved steadily during these years, which also saw the first successful transplants. More
There was a huge increase in people smoking from a young age.
Heart and lung disease started to become big killers in Western societies. More young people started to consume alcohol and use recreational drugs, creating some serious new health problems to be managed. More
In the 1960s and 70s, adults and children started exercising much less.
The term "couch potato" was first coined in 1976, in America, to describe people who do not exercise but spend their free time sitting or lying on a couch, watching television and eating fast food. More
A backlash against this saw the fitness craze of the late 70s and early 80s.
The first home exercise videos were produced with the development of video-tape players. 1984 also saw the first ever London Marathon and gyms and fitness centres became popular. More
The number of road accidents increased during this period.
Zebra crossings were introduced in 1951. In 1961 there were 10 million vehicles on British roads and 350,000 people hurt or killed. More
New health problems linked to the environment were coming to light.
Despite all the progress made, new health problems were coming to light. Many of these related to the environment. These concerns were linked to an increase in asthma and allergies in children. More
In the 1970s, the first cases of AIDS appeared.
In 1979, it was noticed in America that a number of young men had fallen ill with a rare type of cancer, normally only seen in older people. This was a symptom of a disease later to be known as AIDS. More