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About this work


A film about the National Health Act that established the NHS, and how it would benefit communities. It starts with a bleak look, when wrap-around patient care is non-existent, patients cannot see the right specialist when they need to and a family is split up over Christmas.


UK : Central Office of Information, 1948.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (24 min.) : sound, black and white



Copyright note

Crown copyright, managed by BFI.

Terms of use

Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales

Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Written and produced by Budge Cooper, Photographed by Wolfgang Suschitzky, Musics composed by Charles Brill, Location Sound Recorded by. S.G. Rider, Directed by Donald Alexander. A Data production 1948. A Central Office of Information film for the Ministry of Health.


This video was made from material preserved by the BFI National Archive


Segment 1 The film starts with point-of-view driving shots with an intertitle 'Christmas 1947' superimposed. A car drives into a quiet market town, Kingham. The doctor visits a garage and leaves a message with the foreman. A housewife is seen decorating her house and pinning mistletoe on the ceiling, chatting to her elderly mother, who is knitting. Two young boys are seen with a wheelbarrow of holly. The elderly lady waves frantically through the window at the children and they find their mother has fallen off the stool she was using. One child goes to fetch his father and the other fetches water - then goes to the doctor's. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:04:57:22 Length: 00:04:57:22
Segment 2 At the house, the doctor tells Mr Carter that his wife needs an x-ray - tomorrow is Christmas Eve and she will have to travel to the hospital. The doctor offers Carter a cigarette - they discuss arrangements over Christmas. The problem is that 'the panel' does not cover the cost of medical care for the man's wife - nor his children. This is the reality prior to the establishment of the NHS. The doctor chats to his own wife about the situation; he is hopeful that home help will be available in the near future... Time start: 00:04:57:22 Time end: 00:09:20:07 Length: 00:04:22:10
Segment 3 The future is - a district nurse in uniform is seen walking up the path and knocking on Carter's door. She then tends to Mrs Carter who is bed-ridden. The elderly Mrs Carter grumbles about matters. Mrs Cooper is engaged to attend to the elderly lady, the children and the housework the next day. Time start: 00:09:20:07 Time end: 00:12:43:12 Length: 00:03:23:05
Segment 4 We return to the present time and the arrangements are falling through. The doctor returns to his daydreaming where his thoughts cover there is enough work for a part-time radiologist at the local hospital. Then, in his daydream, at the hospital the radiologist explains why financially - in the past - it was not in his interests to offer his services. All the staff are seen co-operating together. Mr Carter is pleased about Mrs Cooper - this is all free to the family as Mr Carter is now on the GP's list. The doctor explains that Carter is paying for all this indirectly - through tax and insurance. Time start: 0 Time start: 00:09:20:07 Time end: 00:16:56:20 Length: 00:07:36:13
Segment 5 The doctor is roused from his reverie by the telephone and discusses Mrs Carter's case. The doctor turns on the lights on the Christmas tree and wraps a dolls' house for one of his children. The doctor recalls some of the excellent facilities which are available around the country already - the point is that a co-ordinated approach is needed. He discusses the county boundaries, with a map of the county on his drawing room wall; this is thinly disguised propaganda in support of the act. Time start: 00:16:56:20 Time end: 00:20:43:10 Length: 00:03:46:15
Segment 6 The doctor speculates about the future - listing all the services that Mrs Carter could have under the new act with the benefits that all the specialists are available when needed and their time is not wasted on trivial things. In the present time, the telephone rings. Mr Carter is seen in a telephone box - he continues on passing the postman who has a few gifts all the way from Australia. Mr Carter drops them in on his sister who is looking after the children over Christmas. End over shots over local scenery. Time start: 00:20:43:10 Time end: 00:24:26:13 Length: 00:03:43:03



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