UPON the 70th anniversary of the NHS, a museum in Denbigh has launched a new exhibition to celebrate the town’s own special service.

The Infirmary became part of the NHS on July 5, 1948. This brought a dramatic change as patients no longer had to pay for care, though some private beds remained.

Before the NHS, Denbigh Infirmary had been a voluntary hospital that relied on the donations of voluntary work of people in the community to pay for its resources.

The Infirmary became the largest of 19 hospitals under the newly formed Clwyd and Deeside Hospital Management Committee (CDHMC), one of fourteen such committees in Wales who were responsible to the Welsh Hospital Board.

At this point, the health service was available to all and financed by taxation, with people paying into it according to their means rather than paying for private care.

Prior to the NHS, many patients were simply unable to pay for their stay at the Infirmary and relied on voluntary work and donations from local people and churches.

Gwyneth Kensler, chair of the Denbigh Museum Group, said: 'Denbigh Museum was delighted to host the Denbigh Infirmary Exhibition to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS. The Infirmary has a proud history of serving the community for over 210 years and we hope that it will continue to provide health care and services for at least another 200 years.

“In looking through the archive material, I have been struck by the generosity, compassion and commitment of past people of Denbigh regarding care towards the residents of Denbigh and surrounding areas.

“We acknowledge their legacy and promise them that we shall do our utmost to safeguard the future of our much beloved Denbigh Infirmary.”

Amongst Denbigh Infirmary’s staff at the time of the NHS’ birth was Marjorie Williams, 87, who took on the role of administrator at just 17. Ms Williams had previously been a junior clerk but received a promotion upon the reorganisation of the Infirmary’s staff for the NHS.

Ms Williams said: “I think the exhibition is brilliant, it portrays the Infirmary as I remember it with photos of staff who I have not seen for a long time, as well as instruments that were used.

“When the NHS came into operation there was a huge change. There were no financial worries around the receipt of funding from local people after the state took over. Slowly but surely things improved there, though we received some of the best care there beforehand anyway.

“The Infirmary was for everyone in Denbigh and surrounding areas, it was quite busy. At that time, we would accept people that had been in road accidents and there was a lot of motorbike accidents on the s-bends, though these patients would be brought to the hospital by police as the ambulance service was dependent on volunteers.

“More ambulances were available once the NHS took over. Any new equipment that we requested, nine times out of ten we would be successful.

“I really enjoyed my time at the Infirmary both before and after the NHS, it was like a big family.”

Denbigh Museum is open on Monday and Thursday afternoon 2 - 4pm. Arrangements can be made for visits outside these dates by phoning 01745 814323 or gwyneth.kensler@denbighshire.gov.uk