The NHS is photogenic - a truth demonstrated by this exhibition and the thesis behind its origins.
Recognising that photography offered a unique medium for exploring and revealing the complexity of our National Health Service and the essential humanity which lies at its heart, the NHS approached a number of major photographers to seek their help in developing greater public understanding of the service in its 50th anniversary year.
Network Photographers responded with enthusiasm. The brief was to show the health service as it is in 1998. The areas of healthcare covered by this exhibition emerged through discussion with the NHS, and each photographer was given freedom to interpret his or her chosen topic as they wished, exploring all of its facets.
Much of the day to day care and treatment provided by the NHS is routine - though critical to those who receive it in terms of quality of life. How many of us want to live with any degree of pain or discomfort however "minor"? Other aspects of modern healthcare are dramatic and life saving - these are the images we see more often on our television screens. This exhibition has managed to capture both the ordinary and the dramatic in a way which shows the value of the NHS to everyone.
The NHS is the biggest organisation in Europe, providing employment for more than a million people - and care and treatment for over 50 million more. The NHS is everywhere, in every village, town and city in the country. Network's photographers have risen to the challenge of capturing the breadth of the NHS as well as the range of its services. From a rural GP practice in Northern Ireland to a busy maternity unit in London, from a Glasgow Accident and Emergency Department to the rounds of a district nurse in Airedale, the seven photographic essays contained in this exhibition represent a truly national service. These images will continue to illustrate the NHS well beyond its anniversary year. Each essay stands as a unique record of the NHS at 50. The organisers of "NHS 100" will have cause to be grateful to all those who made this project possible: to Network Photographers and especially to the Hospital Saving Association whose support has made it possible to take this exhibition to 16 venues throughout the UK. Thanks also go to Glaxo Wellcome, BT, Fuji Professional, Metro Labs and Hays DX, whose support has enabled the images from this exhibition to be produced and distributed in special publications and across the Internet.
Thanks also go to NHS staff and patients for allowing their images to be displayed and for standing as representatives of the millions of people who have sustained the NHS over 50 years.
The "NHS Now... Towards The Future" exhibition will be on tour throughout the UK during 1998 - the NHS 50th anniversary year. It is open to the general public as well as staff and patients of the NHS.