Celebrating 75 Years of the NHS

The NHS, which was was created on 5th July 1948, celebrated its 75th birthday on 5th July 2023. A number of events took place nationally and locally to help mark this major milestone. These included  special receptions at the Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh Castle and Parkruns  across the UK to show support for the NHS, including local events at Plean Country Park, the University of Stirling and Callendar House in Falkirk.

These are summarised below along with a local timeline which highlights some of the key changes and developments across NHS Forth Valley over the last 75 years. You can also find out more about the major accomplishments, milestones, innovations and breakthroughs that have been made in the NHS in Scotland on the Our NHS Scotland website. 

Local Plans

NHS Forth Valley’s Communications Department worked with BBC Scotland on a series of special features to celebrate the 75th anniversary. These included a feature on the maternity unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital showing how staff in support local families right at the very start of life and a feature on the family of Lesley Dunabie, Department Manager/Head of Nursing for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) whose mother Patricia Dunabie worked as a paediatric nurse in Ayrshire and her son Brodie Donnelly, who is training to be a nurse at the University of the West of Scotland. This formed part as part of a special feature on three generations of a family who have all worked for the NHS.

First Minister Humza Yousaf, visited Forth Valley Royal Hospital on Monday 3rd July to thank local staff and speak to a number of patients who had recently undergone surgery.

Following a local media appeal to identify people who shared the same birthday as the NHS, Annette Hall, a woman from Falkirk, came forward and arrangements were made with local staff to deliver a special NHS 75th anniversary birthday cake to Cunningham House in Grangemouth where Annette is currently being cared for.   Interviews with two former local members of staff – former nurse Lesley Douglas and former midwife Marie Goldie were shown at a special 75th anniversary event for staff from across NHS Scotland held at Edinburgh Castle on 20th July 2023.

Serco distributed special 75th anniversary cupcakes to patients in all of our local hospitals on the afternoon of Wednesday 5th July and afternoon tea boxes were also distributed to a number of wards and departments across NHS Forth Valley. In addition, Unison colleagues organised special retro sweet stalls for local staff.

National Plans

A special reception was held at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on 20th June 2023 to celebrate the 75th anniversary. This brought together staff from across NHS Scotland, including a number of staff from NHS Forth Valley’s community and acute mental health services. NHS Scotland also organised a 75th anniversary reception for NHS staff at Edinburgh Castle on Thursday 20th July 2023 where interviews with two former local members of staff,  former nurse Lesley Douglas and former midwife Marie Goldie to highlight their memories and experiences of working in the NHS.

Special NHS Parkrun events took place across the UK, including a number in Forth Valley at Plean Country Park, Callander House in Falkirk and the University of Stirling Campus.

The Royal Mint produced a special commemorative 50p to raise money for NHS Charities Together and a number of buildings, historic monuments and other high-profile sites across the country were ‘lit up blue’ to mark the special anniversary. 

NHS Forth Valley Timeline

1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s



July 5th, 1948, was the official “vesting” day of the National Health Service across the UK. In Scotland the service is set up by a separate Act passed in 1947.


In 1948, the National Health Service Scotland Act took over control of hospital provision, including many existing mental health institutions. The Royal Scottish National Hospital, which occupied the site of the current Forth Valley Royal Hospital, became a ‘special hospital’ under Western Region Hospital Board of the new NHS “funds, endowments, 1600 acres of ground and building with capacity for 800 residents, were transferred to  the state” and the ‘most excellent charity,’ as it was fondly known, ceased to exist.



Falkirk District Royal Infirmary celebrated the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in style.

Figure 1 Courtesy of NHS Archive, University of Stirling

…and a new Nurse’s Home is opened.

Figure 2 Courtesy of NHS Archive, University of Stirling

If you spot anyone you recognise, please let the Corporate Records teams know fv.informationgovernanvce@nhs.scot – it is always good to put names to faces.


The first triplets were born at Falkirk District Royal Infirmary.

Figure 3 Courtesy of NHS Archive, University of Stirling

If you spot anyone you recognise, please let the Corporate Records teams know fv.informationgovernanvce@nhs.scot – maybe you are the son, daughter or grandchild of one of the babies in the photograph.


Alexander Logan Speirs (‘Sandy’) was a consultant paediatrician at Stirling Royal Infirmary and Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary. It was largely due to his persistent questioning and research from 1959 onwards that uncovered the danger to pregnant women of the drug Thalidomide. Following a number of reports of malformations in new born babies in West and East Germany, Speirs published his initial research enquiries in The Lancet in 1962, ‘Thalidomide and congenital abnormalities’ (Lancet, 1962, 1(7224), p 303-5). Following publication, the drug was immediately withdrawn from the market in the UK and further tragedies were averted.


The extensions to Falkirk Community Hospital in the 1960s, included the development of the Falkirk Ward which established the pattern for ward design across Scotland for most subsequent new hospitals. The architects were Keppie Henderson and Partners. The Falkirk Ward was developed in order to provide greater “privacy, amenity and better facilities for caring for patients and so set standards for National Health Service hospitals”. It was an experiment in design, incorporating several features which were being contemplated or proposed for new hospitals but had not yet been tried out in Britain. It was a complete departure from the standard Nightingale ward and involved a move towards much smaller, easier to manage units.

Figure 4 Courtesy of NHS Archive, University of Stirling


In 1969, the Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital in Bridge of Allan was closed, following the opening of a new maternity unit at Stirling Royal Infirmary.  The hospital opened c.1941 in the mansion house, designed by Robert Adam in his castle style. The estates of Airthrey Castle were built on to form Stirling University. The new maternity unit at Stirling Royal Infirmary comprised 81 beds, plus 20 special baby care beds and opened in 1969.



A new outpatients and accident and emergency unit were opened at Falkirk & District Royal Infirmary. The block had to cope with varying ground levels on the site. The outpatient department was on top and the A&E below.

Figure 5 Courtesy of Falkirk Council Archives


In the early 1970s, the Boards of Stirling and Clackmannanshire hospitals were amalgamated with that of Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary to form the Board of Management for Stirling, Falkirk and Alloa Hospitals.  In 1974, as a result of further NHS legislation, the Forth Valley Health Board assumed responsibility for the hospital services of Forth Valley.


Stirling Royal Infirmary celebrated its centenary.


The launch of Radio Royal hospital station serving Falkirk and Stirling Royal Infirmaries, broadcasting from (studio was covered in egg boxes to help the acoustics!) atop the nurses’ home at the RSNH in Larbert.



Falkirk District Royal Infirmary celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1982. Mothers of babies born in the ward on that day, 18th January, received commemorative gifts.


Forth Valley Health Board opened the College of Nursing and Midwifery on 1st May. The facility, officially opened by Lord Glenarthur, included a lecture theatre, library and computer suite, classrooms and seminar rooms, practical areas and a restaurant. Sadly, the College closed in 1996 and nurse education transferred to the University of Stirling.


Louise Barbour, who works as a district nurse in Falkirk, was born on 5th July 1988, the 40th anniversary of the NHS, and the first baby born at the maternity unit at Stirling Royal Infirmary. She is pictured with her mum, dad and brother along with the gifts the family received from the hospital.


Falkirk Royal Infirmary celebrated its centenary, whilst at Stirling Royal Infirmary the new Queen Elizabeth Wing was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (who, incidentally, opened the new Infirmary in 1928 when she was Duchess of York).



Clackmannan County Hospital for Mental Health Services was opened by Michael Forsyth, MP, Minister for Health. The new hospital, the first of its kind in Scotland, provided a 16-bed psychiatric acute admission ward and a 20-bed ward for the elderly and was the base for Community Mental Health, supporting those suffering from long term mental health issues in the community rather than in residential environments.


RSNH became first hospital in Scotland to acquire Trust status, becoming Royal Scottish National Hospital and Community NHS Trust. This lasted just a year before it expanded (to include Bellsdyke Hospital and other services) to become Central Scotland Healthcare Trust in 1994. In the later 1990s it expanded further to include GPs and primary care services and was renamed Forth Valley Primary Care NHS Trust. This was followed in 1993, by the establishment of Stirling Royal Infirmary NHS Trust and then Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary Health Service Trust.


The Stirling and Falkirk NHS Trusts were merged to form the Forth Valley NHS Acute Hospitals Trust, ending years of rivalry between the two.


Safer Fun in the Sun booklet produced by the Forth Valley Health Promotion Team.

Figure 6 Courtesy of Lothian Health Services Archive, University of Edinburgh



Forth Valley Health Board became the Forth Valley NHS Board with direct responsibility for the Acute Hospital Trusts and the Primary Care Trust, which looked after local health centres.


Following the Labour Government’s white paper ‘Partnership for Care’, which called for an eradication of health inequalities and a modernisation of care, NHS Boards were instructed to dissolve their trusts and NHS Forth Valley was born, assuming responsibility for health provision across Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire.


Construction of Forth Valley Hospital begins on the site of the demolished Royal Scottish National Hospital.


Amid all the changes to the hospital sites across the Forth Valley region, new uniforms for NHS staff appeared, with trousers replacing skirts and colour coding differentiated clinical staff from domestic and catering staff.



Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Larbert was built on the site of the Royal Scottish National Hospital and began operation in 2010, with its official royal opening ceremony in July 2011. It was designed by Equion and Keppie Designs to replace both Stirling Royal Infirmary and Falkirk Royal Infirmary which then became community hospitals.


Liam Hendrie was amongst the last babies born at Stirling Royal Infirmary when maternity services moved across to the recently opened unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. The move meant that, apart from home births, there were be no more “Sons and Daughters of The Rock” – the name traditionally given to Stirling-born babies.


Staff from across NHS Forth Valley joined forces to pose for this photograph to wish many happy returns to the NHS for its 65th birthday. Pictured in the atrium of Forth Valley Royal Hospital, they brought along some of the medical equipment in use today and celebrated with a piece of giant birthday cake, courtesy of the facilities company Serco.


The new Maggie’s Forth Valley Centre opened its doors and welcomed its first visitors, offering a programme of support to anyone affected by any type of cancer, as well as their family and friends. The centre is situated in the grounds of Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

Maggies Forth Valley

Maggies Forth Valley


A new RVS cafe opened at Stirling Community Hospital thanks to generous donations from the Friends of Stirling Community Hospital. There has been a café on the Stirling Hospital site since 1968.

July  2018

As the NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary, Staff News looked at some of the health heroes in NHS Forth Valley over the past seven decades and the great strides forward in treatment and technology.



Health Secretary Jeane Freeman officially opened the Stirling Health and Care Village on 19th February 2020. The development included a new GP and Minor Injuries Centre, the Bellfield Centre (providing short-term care, rehabilitation and assessments), a refurbished Outpatient Centre and a new base for the Scottish Ambulance Service which has relocated from its previous site in the Riverside area of the city.

Stirling Health and Care Village Video

Stirling Health and Care Village Video

March 2020

The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Forth Valley area. New community triage and assessment centres open to reduce the impact on local GP practices.

December 2020

Clinics providing a vaccination to protect against Covid-19 begin in Forth Valley Royal Hospital. Frontline health and social care staff along with care home workers set to the first to receive the initial supplies.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “For all the difficulties that lie ahead, the arrival of the first vaccine should give us all real hope that the end of the pandemic is on the horizon.”

Covid Vaccination Centre

Covid Vaccination Centre


2021 marked the 10 year anniversary of the official opening ceremony of Forth Valley Royal Hospital. To celebrate caring for patients over the past decade, this special Staff News feature highlights just some of the memorable milestones and moments in the lifetime of Forth Valley Royal Hospital.


On 6th May 2023, the Coronation of King Charles III was celebrated in the Maternity Unit, with cute, knitted crowns for all the babies born that day. Elsewhere, staff across the Forth Valley sites celebrated with cakes and an abundance of red, white and blue.

Coronation Baby

Coronation Baby