Pensioner thanks NHS for saving her life as a youngster

A Heage pensioner who almost died in 1942 at the age of four has wished the NHS many happy returns as it marks 65 years.

Six years before the NHS was established, Ann Martin, who went on to become a nurse, nearly lost her life to pneumonia. In the days before free health care, she would have died if her family doctor had not agreed to waive the bills that parents could not afford to pay.

Thanks to her doctor’s generosity 71 years ago, Ann lived to tell the tale and to see the day six years later when the cost of doctors and life-saving treatment became free to all.

Ann, 75, said: “The NHS does not always get things right but I would not wish to go through the agonising choice of letting a child die because the family was too poor to pay the doctor’s bill.”

In 1942, the family doctor prescribed Ann a new antibiotic, penicillin, discovered by Alexander Fleming for free on the condition they agreed to write up the results.