Number 1 in our countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' is dedicated to the NHS on its 70th anniversary…

The National Health Service was born on 5 July 1948. Labour health secretary Aneurin Bevan officially launched the NHS seventy years ago today.

At the time, healthcare had been a luxury many of us could not afford. Thousands of people died every year from diseases like tuberculosis, polio and diphtheria. But Aneurin said that:

No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.

The NHS was created on the principle that proper healthcare should be easily accessible to all, regardless of who a person is or how much money they have. It was the first time anywhere in the world that healthcare was offered free at the point of use for everyone. And never before had doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, opticians and hospitals come together to work as one.

Wishing the NHS a very happy 70th birthday! From all the Paintings in Hospitals staff team from across the country.

Throughout its history, the NHS has transformed healthcare and pioneered new research and treatments. It is thanks to the NHS that diseases like polio have been eradicated from the UK, and that vaccines continue to protect us from diphtheria and meningitis C. The NHS performed the first successful kidney, heart and bone marrow transplants. As well as the first successful IVF, resulting in Louise Brown, the world's first test-tube baby. The list goes on!

Seven decades later and today all our staff team at Paintings in Hospitals are coming together to celebrate this incredible institution.

In April 1948, just before the NHS officially began, the World Health Organisation constitution defined ‘health’ as:

a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

We know that the arts can play a huge part in this wider view of our health. And in a similar way to Aneurin Bevan, we believe that no one should be denied access to art because of a lack of means.

Paintings in Hospitals founder, Sheridan Russell, was already working at the National Hospital when the NHS began. And officially since 1959, Paintings in Hospitals as a charity has aimed to help the NHS in the best way we know how.

For nearly 60 years, we have dedicated our mission to help ease the stress, anxiety and depression of NHS staff, offering them the health and wellbeing benefits of art, while they care for us. Our art collection has helped millions of patients and their families to make the best of NHS care by supporting them in their recovery and mental health. And thousands of patients, staff and visitors have found encouragement and empowerment in our art tours, talks and activities.

As Paintings in Hospitals approaches our own 60th anniversary next year, we know that the NHS is under more pressure than it ever has been before.

We promise that we will continue to support the NHS, the wellbeing of its patients and its staff, for many more years to come. Because we believe it deserves no less.

Contact us now if you want to get involved...

See our full countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' here...