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Health before the NHS: #1/2 – The Road to Recovery


About the series

Health-Medical Documentary hosted by Robert Winston, published by BBC broadcasted as part of BBC Timeshift series in 2012

The Series

The Road to Recovery

In the early 20th century, getting treated if you were ill was a rudimentary, risky and costly business – a luxury few could afford. Using rare archive footage and personal testimony, the programme tells how ordinary people, GPs, midwives and local councils coped with a chaotic and ramshackle system as they struggled to deal with sickness and disease in the homes and communities of pre-World War Two Britain.

A Medical Revolution

At the beginning of the 20th century hospitals were forbidding places very much to be avoided – a last resort for the destitute rather than places you would go to get better. Using unique archive footage from an era when infectious disease was virtually untreatable and powerful first-hand accounts from patients, doctors and nurses, the programme explores the extraordinary transformation of the hospital from Victorian workhouse to modern centre of medicine. 

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