©Wellcome Library, London

The NHS was enormously popular, bringing about a more egalitarian distribution of medical services. The civil servant, Sir William Beveridge (1879-1963) who had written the blueprint for reform, estimated that the annual cost of the NHS would be 170 million. By 1951, it was 400 million, and by 1960 it had almost doubled to 726 million. By that year, too, there were over 283,000 registered nurses in Britain whereas in 1939 there had been a mere 60,000.

Pencil and watercolour drawing by Virginia Powell, London.