This year marks seventy years since the National Health Service came into existence. It was launched on 5 July 1948 by Aneurin Bevan with the aim of access to free healthcare for all by nationalizing the existing healthcare system. At Ayrshire Archives we thought we would share some interesting information held in the Royal Burgh of Ayr Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health for 1948 (accession 15/426). Although county councils were already required to appoint a Medical Health Officer of Health, this role also became prominent in Scottish burghs after the introduction of the Burgh Police Scotland Act (1892). Sections of this legislation meant that it became a requirement for Scottish burghs to also appoint a Medical Officer of Health. Although their duties ranged over the years, one of their main responsibilities was to monitor the health of the burgh and direct the provision of certain health departments.
These following passages of the report discuss the circumstances of the various services provided in Ayr Burgh. Below the Medical Officer of Health indicates how major the National Health Service (Scotland) Act has been.
They also touch on some of the changes the act has resulted in. Here the report discusses midwifery in Ayr Burgh 1948, including the purchase of two portable sets of apparatus for gas and air analgesia.
The Medical Officer of Health also discusses other legislation relating to the time period such as the National Assistance Act, 1948. Here they explain the lack of residential establishments with medical supervision within the burgh.
The report provides an insight into some of the health issues relating to the period, how they have altered and possible explanations for these changes.
This is just a small insight into the social and health information the Medical Officer of Health’s annual reports hold. They also contain a wealth of statistical information which can be compared for different years, showing the conditions of health services and the progress made within the burgh.