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- Author: Angela Whitecross x
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The NHS is a space in which we encounter through multiple identities: as patients, as friends and family, as employees, as a local community. ‘NHS at 70: The Story of Our Lives’ is a national project which has been recording oral histories with patients and staff, taking a holistic approach to each person and their relationship with the NHS. In these testimonies the everyday and the extraordinary feature across memories of particular places and the reliving of defining moments, from which we can begin to construct shared emotional responses to the NHS. Positioning the NHS as a space which is both public and private and cradles a myriad emotional experiences across generations can deepen our understanding of the public’s changing relationship with the NHS and its central place in British social culture. Using personal testimonies, this chapter explores how memories of spaces that are entrenched in the collective memory have changed in purpose or disappeared, and how new digital spaces of healthcare have emerged. It first examines memories of Park Hospital (now Trafford Hospital), the first NHS hospital, to understand the NHS and its cultural significance in the UK. Second, it explores memories of changing spaces of care – from sanatoria to asylums – in order to understand personal responses to changes in treatments and restructuring. Third, it considers the impact of virtual spaces in the NHS and the ways in which digital technology is creating a new space for patients and healthcare professionals.