The NHS has just celebrated its 70th birthday.

In its lifetime, it has transformed the health of the nation, delivering huge medical advances and eradicating diseases such as polio and diphtheria. And with more than 1.5 million staff, the NHS is the UK’s largest employer.

With this milestone having just passed on July 5, researchers at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester have drawn our attention to the first issue of the Dorset County Hospital Times, published on October 1947.

Priced at six pence, the publication remarks that the NHS Act had been passed and was due to become operative from July 5, 1948.

It says: "Although this means the Dorset County Hospital will cease to be a voluntary hospital, the need for the interest and support of the hospital will remain; and the committee feel certain that the Dorset County Hospital's many friends will continue to take an interest in its affairs."

Back in 1947 the hospital reported 30,000 attendees a year and saw more than 70 out patients weekly.

It had 120 beds and saw 2,000 people admitted yearly for treatment on the wards.

As it is today, Dorset County Hospital was a valuable training ground for medical staff. In 1947 nurses would complete a three year training programme and would spend three months in the Preliminary Training School, a large private house with lecture rooms, kitchen and 'comfortable' bedrooms. The nurses would live with a sister tutor and spend time and receive lectures on the theory and practice of nursing before starting duty on the wards. A special prize was given each year for the nurse who scored highest marks in the Hospital Examination.

Many Happy Returns to the NHS.