IT’S HARD to believe now – given its staggering achievements – that the roll-out of the ‘new’ NHS was not headline news on the day of its own birth, July 5, 1948.

The Bournemouth Echo was more worried about events in besieged Berlin – and the freezing summer, the coldest for 26 years. But we did manage to squeeze in the news that because of the ‘nationalisation’ of the hospitals, the Winton, Moordown and Cornelia Hospital (Poole Hospital) fundraising schemes were being wound up after raising £30,000 in ten years.

There was more than a whiff of nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ but perhaps that was because, after 30 years of nothing but war and austerity, it was hard for ordinary people to envisage a bright, new future.

In our newspaper of Sunday July 3, 1948 we sniffed: “On Monday a new National Health Service comes into force. There will, however, be some delay before all its provisions can be put into full working order.”

The ‘new machine’, we said, would have no starter. “It will have to be cranked, and a positive effort made by every man and woman concerned.

“In the past our hospitals have relied on a combination of paid and voluntary service to see them through. The system has worked well and must not be allowed to collapse. The new service cannot succeed if the old and tested system of collaboration is allowed to lapse.”

Almost exactly opposite this leader column, however, we were reporting the opening of the new, much-needed 32-bed ward at the Royal Victoria and West Hants Hospital. “The shortage of beds had for a long time caused considerable anxiety to the board of management,” we said.

Although vast numbers of dentists had initially refused to join the NHS, many other professionals did - by Wednesday July 7 128 Bournemouth area doctors had joined with 18 dentists. And we reported talks about converting the old US hospital at St Leonards for the NHS.

Slowly, but surely, even during its first week, things were starting to change…