THE NHS turns 70 on Thursday this week.

There will be plenty of analysis in this newspaper later in the week. We'll be looking at the health of the NHS on its 70th birthday, and at what the prognosis is for the future.

Today, however, we just want to celebrate what makes the NHS so special.

We've brought together a gallery of photographs of hospitals in York. A couple date from before the NHS was born. Most, however, are from the last 70 years.

There are a two 1950s views showing wards at the old County and Yearsley Bridge hospitals; a view of the old open-air ward at Bootham Park Hospital; and several photographs of York District Hospital - including a sequence of shots showing it actually being built in the 1970s.

Perhaps our favourite photograph of all, however, was taken at the old Fulford Maternity Hospital in September 1982, just three months before maternity services transferred to York District. The photograph shows Sister Ellen Willey with some baby clothes knitted by staff at the maternity hospital beaming down at eight-day-old James Sturdy. Somehow Sister Willey's smiling face, full of care and warmth, sums up everything that is good about the NHS at its very best.

Long may that continue...

Stephen Lewis