IT was a birthday party that brought together patients, staff and visitors and where the NHS took centre stage.

Parties were staged across University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust sites, to mark the 70th anniversary of the formation of the public health service in 1948.

The main event took place outside Southampton General Hospital which was also celebrating 70 years since it changed its name from the Borough Hospital.

Guests enjoyed a host of party games, face painting and also had a chance to look at memorabilia that had been collected from over the past seven decades and send a birthday wish to the NHS.

Donations of food and drink from Asda and M&S were also enjoyed before staff then gathered for a commemorative photo to mark the occasion.

David French, interim chief executive of UHSFT, said: “I’m proud to work for the NHS and I’m proud that through all the changes we’ve seen since 1948, ‘free at the point of need’ remains at the core of the NHS.

“Today has been a wonderful occasion to reflect on the achievements and then look forward to the future. Through our 10,000 brilliant staff, we will continue to make our services and facilities better every day.”

The party was one of a number of events held to mark NHS70 which also included a commemorative service held at Winchester Cathedral yesterday evening.

The multi-faith service began with a parade into the Cathedral by NHS staff across Hampshire before hearing from a number of speakers.

Among them was Claire Shields, a lead clinical practice facilitator at UHS whose mum Dorothy Scott also qualified as a nurse at the same time the NHS was formed.

Claire said: “I was very excited and honoured to be a part of the event and to celebrate the fantastic NHS. I really wanted to speak about how there was a great sense of public service that I think still holds true today. My mum very much had in her and I think the NHS is really built on that.”