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How fascinating

It was coming up to midnight on Sunday 4 July 1948 and my mother, who had been in labour for 18 hours, was just about ready to give birth to me. She wanted to start pushing. But the doctors and midwives looked up at the clock on the wall and said, “Stop. Hold on, Edna, hold on.” They knew they were moments away from the start of the National Health Service and wanted me to be the first baby born into this new service. So my mother took a deep breath and held on. That’s how I was born at one minute past midnight on Monday 5 July 1948 – the first NHS baby.

That was in a cottage hospital in a little corner of west Wales called Glanamman. It was the staff there who told my mother, “You must call her Aneira,” the female form of Aneurin, after Aneurin Bevan, the architect of the NHS. They knew it was significant that Bevan’s dream of a health service that was free for everyone to use had come to fruition that day.

A quite wondrous reminder that those cottage hospitals existed before the NHS did. And the hospital bed, the doctors, nurses and so on. Even, maternity services.

As all should know but too few do the first NHS built hospital opened in 1963.

And that cottage hospital she was born in?

The Amman Valley Hospital was once a private house named “Frondeg” and home to the family of William (Gwylim) Rees; manager of Amman Tinplate works at Garnant. Sometime later it became the home of the Folland family. Henry Folland made his fortune in the tinplate industry and the family moved to Black Pill in Swansea in the first half of the 1920’s. More information on the Folland Family can be found on the “Mr and Mrs Henry Folland” page on this site.

Before Henry Folland ventured on holiday to Egypt in the spring of 1926, he informed his wife that on his return, he wished to donate their former home on what was then Horny Road, Glanamman, to the community, in order that it be used as a much needed hospital. The family’s intention had already been announced by the wife of county councillor John Phillips at a concert two years previously in February of 1924. Unfortunately, Henry Folland died in Egypt and it was left to his wife, Lilly Folland, to carry out his wishes.

While the various committees in the area were still trying to decide which sort of service the new hospital should provide, Mrs Folland was more focused. Her vision was that of her former home acting as a fully equipped cottage hospital, providing as many services as possible to the sick and injured of the area. Swansea General Hospital at the time, was overcrowded. At her own expense, Mrs Folland, by 1929, had proceeded to turn Frondeg into a twelve bed self contained hospital.

Fundraising continued through the efforts of various committees in the locality and the hospital was able to start its life with a credit balance of £12,000, including the donations by the Folland family.

That’s how the NHS was founded. By nationalising previously extant medical infrastructure, in this instance charitably funded such. Well done to Nye Bevan of course, just abstracting into the State what already existed.

13 thoughts on “How fascinating”

  1. I see a bit of English and a bit of Latin. And a name, repeated. Is the rest really Welsh or are you just kidding us?

    Though obviously you’ve misspelled ‘pendant’ anyway.

  2. There was a post a while back, at TimN’s place I think, that reminded me that the phrase “the bastards stole our hospitals” used to be fairly common amongst my grandparent’s generation.

  3. Come to think of it;

    “They knew they were moments away from the start of the National Health Service and wanted me to be the first baby born into this new service”

    They wanted.

    Did anybody ask what Edna wanted? ‘cos after 18 hours of labour, I reckon she just wanted you fucking out, love.

  4. I can remember having an argument with my entire team at my last workplace where I was suggesting that perhaps – just perhaps – *some* private provision might do a better job and perhaps could be worth at least a try. One of my colleagues (who’s mother is an NHS employee) said it would be incredibly dangerous to ‘risk people’s lives and health’ by trialling things like this. When I said that was an argument for not having an NHS at all they went quiet for a few seconds – baffled by what I’d said – and then asked what on earth did I mean? I pointed out the NHS was created in the late 40s, prior to that was a combination of private and charitable provision, and that if the argument now is that changing a system might have risks, that if applied then they would not have had the NHS. Thence came special pleading etc.

    It really makes my shit itch that one is accused of being dogmatic when simply stating the obvious – that perhaps some health provision could be private – whereas insisting the state should provide all of it apparently isn’t.

    The NHS is a fucking religion in this country , it really is. And the adherents of it just as well informed and rational as those of any religion (semi-apologies to those of you that believe in a magic man in the sky).

  5. Ducky McDuckface,
    “The bastards stole our hospitals.”

    Not only hospitals but they nationalised schools, too, yet you never hear of it expressed in those terms, presumably because that would imply those services were pre-existing.

  6. Back around 1950 I was helping out my doctor uncle during vacations, notably making sure the filing was done. In return he taught me to drive by going on his rounds. In some areas it was useful to have someone to care for the car when visiting a home. His considered view at the time was that centralising all the planning and financing of health provision was creating a something muddle which might never be sorted out.

  7. There was a post a while back, at TimN’s place I think, that reminded me that the phrase “the bastards stole our hospitals” used to be fairly common amongst my grandparent’s generation.

    Alas, not at mine. Polyamory and carrier bags yes, grumbles about how the NHS came into being no.

  8. @dearieme
    All Welsh, bar one Latin word, which I couldn’t be arsed to italicise. And the name isn’t repeated exactly: it’s corrected. Gwylim > Gwilym.

  9. Last year I had a partial thyroidectomy. I had a lump in my neck and went to my local public hospital for a checkup. The good lady sent me for a CAT scan. The neck lump was fine, but she spotted a tumour in my chest and packed me off to our regional major Private Teaching Hospital for more tests.

    It took two surgeons at the Private Hospital seven hours to cut my throat, tunnel down my neck, remove half of my thyroid plus the attached (benign) tumour and sew me up. I was discharged after 4 days. No pain, no infections, no complications, no scar.

    I pay the Japanese equivalent of National Insurance. Because Public and Private medical systems work in partnership, the whole thing cost me the equivalent of UKP2,000, and most of that was for tests and a private room.

  10. “The bastards stole our hospitals.”

    Could well have been me posting as well. Exactly the same thing happened in my home town of Whitby. For centuries the locals had put their own hands in their own pockets to build up a health system and were particularly proud in 1925 when locals had raised enough to let the cottage hospital move out of its knocked-together former bank and sea captain’s cottage into a purpose-built hospital. And then in 1948 Bevan stole it.

  11. I’m in the southern Peloponnese at the moment, and on arrival I realised I’d brought insufficient medication. So I dropped into the shabby local health centre, expecting a long wait and much bureaucracy. Within minutes, I saw a junior doctor fluent in English, had signed one form, had my prescription in my hand, had had a brief chat with a consultant and was on my way in less than 15 minutes. Now, imagine I had been on holiday in Cornwall or Sco’land: I’d have had to wait at least two days for an appointment…. (The prescription cost me €8.65, btw.)

    Healthcare in Greece consists of a universal health care system provided through national health insurance, and private health care. According to the 2011 budget, the Greek healthcare system was allocated 6.1 billion euro, or 2.8% of GDP. In a 2000 report by the World Health Organization, the Greek healthcare system was ranked 14th worldwide in the overall assessment, above other countries such as Germany (25) and the United Kingdom (18), while ranking 11th at level of service.

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