Thousands of photographs documenting healthcare in Britain before the NHS was founded have been discovered.
The 4,050 images, taken between 1938 and 1943, were uncovered by staff at Historic England’s archive in Swindon.
The images show blood transfusions and sterilising equipment, as well as healthcare staff enjoying time off.
Abigail Coats, from Historic England, said the photographs show “how far some medical developments have come” and “what has stayed unchanged”.
The images, taken by the Topical Press Agency, offer a glimpse into wartime healthcare, medical procedures and equipment in use before the NHS was founded in 1948.
Ms Coats said they reveal health and welfare provision “at a time of social upheaval and change”.
“You can see just how far some medical developments have come, but also what has stayed largely unchanged,” she said.
“But they also show staff having fun and unwinding after a long working day.”
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The descriptions that accompany the images record the date, location and details of staff and equipment, as well as giving insights into the attitudes of the time.
One photo showing women at an exercise class includes the lines: “Peckham mothers can keep that schoolgirl figure. The cares of house-keeping and raising a family can play havoc with a mother’s looks and bodily shapeliness.”
Historic England said it was a mystery how the photos ended up in the archive.
The collection is being made accessible to the public for the first time to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, which came into being on 5 July 1948.
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive, said the photos “have the potential to expand our knowledge of wartime medical practice and revolutionary treatments and help us delve deeper into the history of healthcare”.