The very first day of the NHS | Angela’s story

NHS Derbyshire worker Angela Lee has shared the story of her grandma who gave birth on the very first day of the National Health Service, and how her son, Ronnie, survived because of the launch of the NHS.

When Molly French gave birth to her second son at home on her 26th birthday, 5 July 1948, she had the money to pay the midwife in her hand. in 1948 it cost £1.50 to see a midwife and £3 to see a doctor.

When Molly handed the midwife some money, she was told she did not need to pay, that today was the first day of the National Health Service and healthcare was now free.

Soon after Ronnie was born, he developed a potentially fatal blockage in his stomach. Molly was told that the operation to save his life would have cost £40, which was the equivalent of 6 months wages.

Angela said: “If the NHS hadn’t existed my grandma wouldn’t have been able to pay for my uncle’s care and he would not have survived.

“I’m very proud of my family and thankful we are able to share this story. We feel very fortunate that we have the NHS which can easily be taken for granted until we hear stories like this and reflect on what it would be like for us if we didn’t have free healthcare available to all. Thank you NHS and all the people who work so hard to provide it.”

The NHS saved Ronnie French’s life in the first few days of its establishment and continues to save lives every single day.

Molly now lives in a nursing home in Washington, Tyne and Wear, and will turn 101 on 5 July. Ronnie will also be turning 75 on 5 July. Angela has worked for the NHS for almost 20 years and now works for NHS Derby and Derbyshire, she is proud to be able to share this very special family story with us all.

Top photo: Molly French holding a photo of her younger self (left) and Ronnie French holding a photo of himself as a child.

Left photo: Angela Lee (left) and Molly French (right)

Bottom photo: Ronnie French as a baby in 1948.