The pre-national health service Collection

The NHS was formed in 1948 as a means to provide free healthcare and unite the health services in Britain. Launched by Aneurin Bevan, the Minister of Health in Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government, the initial ideas of universal free healthcare can be traced back to the early 1900s with the argument that a new system was needed to replace the antiquated ideas of the Poor Law which was still in existence from the times of the workhouses in the Victorian era.

In the subsequent years, more people began to speak out and momentum gathered when in 1942 the Beveridge Report put forward a recommendation for “comprehensive health and rehabilitation services” and was supported by all parties in the House of Commons.

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Our Pre-NHS collection focuses on the history of the Hospitals at a time when there was no national funding, and healthcare was reliant on the ability to pay, and finances came from charitable donations. We have documentation showing accounts where donors and funds are listed alongside expenses and wages, and a glimpse into the workings of the Saturday Committee, who aimed to raise finances for the hospitals by holding charity “Hospital Days” and carnivals, of which badges were made, including “immunity badges” which showed that you had already given.

This collection contains one of our oldest items, a proceedings book from the Derbyshire General Infirmary Committee from 1803-1816. It includes details of advertising for tenders to be submitted for the design of the infirmary. There is also detail about the fraudulent activity of the records clerk, Mr Bateman, who misappropriated £100 of the infirmary funds (p.62). 


"Old Linen is an Article much wanted, and will at all times be thankfully received"

(Derbyshire General Infirmary Eighty-First Annual Report 1890

Below are the catalogue listings for this collection. Click on an item to view the item record and use the back button on your browser/device to return to the full list.