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Hospitals for All (clip)

Postwar promotional film for the new nationalised health services

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NB The film freezes for roughly 8 seconds c. 04:30 The clip opens on a hospital scene showing an x-ray being examined by a radiologist and a clinical specialist. We next see a scene from an operating theatre at the Ballochmyle Hospital (now closed). Focus is given to the equipment used by the anaesthetist during an operation. We then see some of the continuing care being performed by nurses in the wards. The film then moves on to focus on the work of the plastic surgery department at Ballochmyle. First we see a hand suffering from contracture of the fingers before and after a skin graft. Another case shows a man with extensive facial burns as from nitric acid before and after skin grafts. The narration describes some of the benefits of plastic surgery procedures to the recipients. We next see work within the dental department, with teeth being set so as to assist the healing of a fractured jaw. An ear, nose and throat specialist then performs an examination. The free provision of spectacles by the NHS is noted as we watch an eye exam. An aerial view of the lands around Stracathro hospital is interrupted by the above mentioned freeze. When the film resumes, patients can be seen being led through a series of exercises. The hospital dispensary is visited as is the training school. The film draws to a close on a lesson delivered to a group of trainee nurses.

Questions & Activities


  • When and why was this film made?
  • How did this differ to the experiences of healthcare prior to the NHS?
  • What kinds of ailments and conditions are featured?
  • What values are depicted as essential to the health service? Compare this to values shown in shows like Casualty/Holby City?
  • What does the film say about what people should expect from the National Health Service?
  • What do we expect today?
  • What is conspicuous by its absence from this film?
  • How many talking heads can you spot in this film? Why do surgeons wear masks?
  • What was the purpose of this film?
  • What did people do for health treatment before the NHS?
  • What training do you need to be an anesthetist?
  • How many different types of jobs are mentioned?


Modern Studies: What different specialties and types of hospital workers are shown?

History / Social Change up to 1979/Intermediate: What role did medical advances play in the creation of the NHS?

History / Social Change: People talk a lot today of the hygiene in hospitals. What evidence is there that hygiene was dealt with better in the 1950s?

Higher Modern Studies: Compare this to the world depicted in Michael Moore's 'Sicko' and the world not covered by insurance.

Media Studies/English: Strip away the voiceover and write your own modern day sitcom about this hospital.

Media Studies/History: Strip away the narration and write narration now explaining what difference the NHS made to British Society.

History: This film was made to promote the new nationalised health service in 1948. Does it provide a good picture of the NHS and the services you can expect, or is the film designed to promote the idea that the NHS has been introduced?

Gender: Discuss the gender split shown in this film.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-223-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 1858
Date c.1948
Genre Public Information, Sponsored
School Subject Modern Studies, History, Social Studies, Health and Wellbeing, Gender Studies
Who Department of Health for Scotland (sponsor), Hamilton Tait (director)
Where Ballochmyle Hospital, Stracathro Hospital
Attributes Black and White, Colour
Clip Length 5:51
Film Length 21:45