Instruments of Change

Human Stories, Medical Objects.

A new exhibition 'Instruments of Change' curated by the Museum of Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester showcases Manchester innovations and explores how the University has helped to shape patient care throughout history.

Stories recorded by NHS at 70: The Story Of Our Lives illuminate the medical advances and objects featured in the exhibition, adding a human voice to changes and developments.

Discover and listen below to the stories featured in the exhibition.

For more information visiting Instruments of Change click here (





Early use of penicillin

Charles Howe, born in 1934, recalls his experience of having peritonitis (burst appendix) in 1945 and describes how he was treated with penicillin supplied by Americans, who were using Park Hospital (Trafford Hospital) during the Second World War. At this time penicillin was not in production in the UK. 

“I ended up with incisions in two parts and I was told… that they actually tipped penicillin powder itself into the abdominal cavity”.


Listen to Charles talk about this here

Click here to discover Charles' interview in full. 

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Children in hospital

Patricia is one of many interviewees who reflect on often traumatic experiences of being hospitalised as a child, before the Platt Report of 1959 recommended changes to the welfare of children in hospitals.

Patricia describes the distress and sense of abandonment caused by her parents being banned from visiting her whilst a child during a three-month hospital in 1948 aged just 5.

“The other memory which has scarred me for life …was my mum and dad used to come and visit and then I’d get upset you know. So then, what they did, was banned my mum and dad from seeing me. Can you believe that? Because what they said is, ‘Oh she is getting too upset so don’t come again’. And so I remember one day, I saw them peeping behind this screen at the entrance to the ward…I just went mad and I got out of bed and I started to run… they had just disappeared as obviously they were scared as they didn’t want to upset the staff... I can remember running all over the hospital…and someone must have caught me and taken me back. But then I didn’t see my mum and dad.”


Listen to Patricia reflect on her childhood experience of hospital here.


Janice Fazackerley trained in medicine at Liverpool in the 1970s and specialised in anaesthesia. In her interview she discussed changes in anaesthesia, as halothane was phased out during the 1980s, and the practical challenges of this change.

‘The main drug at the time was halothane, which I think a lot of people have heard of because it came from Liverpool and Manchester and was quite famous, but halothane was running into problems because it seemed to be causing liver disease and another drug had come along, enflurane, which was slightly different as was an ether but it had its own vaporiser because these vaporisers are specific to each agent.’


Listen to Janice talk about changes in anaesthesia here.


In our film, Voices from the First NHS Hospital, June Rosen recalls her unique experience of the launch of the NHS in July 1948.

“My father was a Manchester City Councillor and when I was 8 Aneurin Bevan came to stay the night with us because he was going to launch the NHS. My mother said to me we are going to take our guest breakfast in bed and you can come with me. So we took a tray upstairs. I do remember exactly what he looked like sitting up in bed in his pyjamas with a shock of grey hair….My mother said it was the most amazing time to be involved in politics, we felt as though we were going to build the  New Jerusalem.”