IN York playwright Ged Cooper's new play Get Well Soon, Mikron Theatre Company wishes the NHS a happy 70th birthday...and many more to come?

After a summer on the waterways, the Marsden players are back on terra firma, performing at a sold-out Clements Hall on Sunday afternoon as Cooper's play is staged in York for the first time.

All is not well at St Monica's Hospital: the hospital is on life support, facing bugs, bed-blockers and a battle to save A and E. Hospital boss Simon talks the talk but can he walk the walk? His dad has had a stroke and his teenage daughter is in revolt.

Now hungry businesses, with an eye on profits, are after a slice of the action Seventy years ago, Nye Bevan introduced free healthcare for all, but can his dream survive the demands and pressures of the 21st century? Can Simon find a cure for his family troubles? Can Polish-born nurse Danuta save the day with her pastries and proverbs? Cue tunes, transfusions and titters as Mikron make a surgical strike on the state of the NHS.

Commissioned by Mikron for the first time, Ged says: "They know their formula; they know their audience and they have a real following. I love Mikron's theatrical style; lively and accessible, with a social conscience. You laugh a lot at a Mikron play, but then you go away and think, so I was thrilled when they asked me to write about the NHS on its 70th birthday.

"I had so many ideas whirling round my head; I feel so strongly about the NHS, a uniquely British achievement, that to research and write about it was an honour and privilege – and great fun."

Having first made her mark with her Script Yorkshire work and written the chorus piece for the 2014 wagon production of the York Mystery Plays, Ged established links with Mikron three years ago. "They ran a scheme when they were recruiting new writers and I got on the scheme, one of eight to do so, going over to Marsden to work with them," she recalls.

York Press:

York playwright Ged Cooper, writer of Get Well Soon

She wrote a script, called Walkover, about a 1932 mass trespass of an aristocrat's grouse moor at Kinder, near Sheffield, by factory walkers who liked to go walking at the weekend, led by a Communist. "My play wasn't taken up but the script seemed to go down well at the reading; the actors really liked it, with the cast of four playing the main characters and supporting roles as grouse!" she recalls.

"I sent Mikron a finished version and maybe that registered with them, because in 2016 they sent me details of the two topics for their 2018 plays: the Suffragettes and the NHS.

"I sent a synopsis of my idea for an NHS play and I got a phone call out of the blue two or three months later, saying they liked it and they were going to commission me."

Three drafts ensued, with helpful advice along the way from regular Mikron playwright Maeve Larkin and Ged's mentor, Mikron artistic director Marianne McNamara, and she has added another string to her bow by writing the lyrics for the play's songs.

"I was at first unsure how political I should be, but Mikron never tried to change anything, so it was quite possible to mention the Referendum, Brexit; it's there in the background," says Ged. "My daughter said 'I'm amazed you got away with being so political in this play', but the NHS is bound to be a political subject."

Her condition check on the NHS in 2018 combines past and present: "When you think that the NHS started in 1948 when the nation was still crippled by the war, it was so brave and visionary to do it. Seventy years later, the final song in the show is Ship Of Hope as the ship is battered but it's still afloat."

What of the future: will we still have a National Health Service in 70 years' time, Ged? "That's a hard one to answer because scientific and medical developments are so fast, so I think the NHS will morph into something different, but will still be there, 'free at the point of delivery'," she says in her final prognosis.

Mikron Theatre presents Ged Cooper's Get Well Soon at Clements Hall, York, Sunday, 4pm, sold out; East Cottingwith Village Hall, October 9, 7.30pm, and St Mary's Priory Community Centre, Old Malton, October 18, 7.30pm. Box office: East Cottingwith, 01759 318522; Old Malton, 01484 843701.