Civil Service


Working for the Civil Service in Wartime by Vicky

Vicky attended the University of S.W. England (now known as Exeter University). She studied sciences. In 1940 she was given a job in London working for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. She worked as a personnel assistant. She lived in Kensington and cycled to work. There were very few cars on the road and lots of people walked everywhere. Vicky had met her future husband at the University. He was in the RAF during the war. They got married and then Vicky stopped work, as was traditional in those times when she had her son in 1943.The marriage bar, which prevented married women working had been lifted by the start of World War 2 when more women were needed in the workforce. Later in life Vicky completed a diploma in Librarianship at Robert Gordon University and worked at Elgin and Lossiemouth Libraries. Her Husband remained with Fleet Air Arm and became a Commander at Lossiemouth Airbase. wiki-commons_image University_of_Exeter_1938

Other links
Information on what the Department of Scientific Research did in 1940


Working for the Prescription Pricing Bureau by Glenda

Glenda started work for the Prescription Pricing Bureau based in Newcastle Upon Tyne at the age of 16 in 1951. She sat in a large room with about 50 desks occupied by other women doing the same work. Prescriptions were sent in by the Chemist and processed in this room. Each item on an individual prescription had to be priced, added up and a total placed at the bottom. She used a card index to find out each price. There were ointments, tablets, mixtures e.g. Kaolin and morphine, bandages and dressings.  

Pre-NHS illness
Before the NHS (which began in 1948) you often waited if you felt ill to make sure you really were sick as Doctors and hospital cost money. Around 1946 after about a week of an increasingly sore stomach Glenda’s parents finally called a doctor. He came to their home and examined her. He immediately called an ambulance and said to her parents “We’ll get her to hospital and we might be in time”. She had acute appendicitis and when she was operated on the appendix had gone gangrenous. The worry had been that it would have burst in the ambulance. This would have been very serious just as it would be nowadays. She stayed in hospital for a week and then was at home for two more weeks to recover. The doctor gave her parents a bill for his emergency visit and his follow-up treatment including taking out the stitches afterwards. The hospital charged for the operation, medicine prescribed, doctors’ fees and nursing care. It was a lot of money to pay for her parents.

Other links
NHS archive information from the BBCNHS Archive from the BBC

On 5 July 1948, the National Health Service was launched with the proud expectation that it would make the UK the ‘envy of the world’. Here you can follow the early years of the NHS from radical plan through to triumphant birth and on to fully fledged but sometimes problematic service. Through programmes, documents and images taken from the BBC’s archives you can witness for yourself a time before the NHS existed, the disputes surrounding its inception and the difficulties it faced in the early years.

History of the NHS including two videos promoting the NHS to the British Public