OF the almost 60 frontline services provided in these challenging times by our Bradford District NHS Foundation Care Trust, of which I’m privileged to be a Public Governor, it seems invidious to single out just one.

However, the theme of my two articles - the first part is published here - prompts mention of our impressive pharmacy team by way of an introduction.

Despite the controversial view that nationally over 10per cent of pills prescribed might be unnecessary/remain unused according to recent contentious research reported on BBC Radio 4 programme Today, it’s worth reflecting on this. Equally alarmingly, many don’t carry on them a precise record of what medications they’re on and when asked vaguely refer to pills as ‘green uns’ etc - a ‘patient story’ which has done the ward rounds for years!

That said, it’s quite intriguing to discover what ‘remedies’ would have been available before July 5, 1948 when the NHS was established. A glance at the advertisements from 1930s/40s often long defunct newspapers such as The Sunday Dispatch, News Chronicle and The Daily Herald is revealing. In those days doctors charged fees often beyond most families’ limited means which, of course, meant they were obliged to seek cheaper treatment and shop around. So will you join me for some medically themed yesteryear retail therapy and hope we’ll feel a little better?

The overwhelming commercial message was that a sure cure was at hand in return for strange amounts of currency such as shillings, florins and half crowns with a few old pennies thrown in. Naturally some really did the job, like figs and ‘nature’s little helpers’, prunes. Indeed, judged by the number of advertisements addressing constipation it would seem that apart from confronting Hitler (and Himmler who, as the song goes, had ‘something similar’) the nation was preoccupied with this additional challenge!

Obviously more serious conditions really merited surgery/hospital guidance but failing that (which often happened for financial reasons) stop-gap ‘solutions’ were available, such as Do-Do Asthma Tablets which, it was claimed, would ‘often stop a bad spasm of coughing’ in a few minutes. The equally sensational Juno-Juniper, in warm water every morning, would it seemed ‘completely eradicate Kidney and Bladder Troubles’ without ‘drastic purging’ and additionally cope with overweight as a bonus! Another intriguing product, ‘The remarkable Celery Treatment Celunox’, removed the ‘heavy load of rheumatism’ from which a ‘Mrs H’ suffered within 10 minutes. More convincingly familiar products such as Allenbury’s Foods for Infants utlised ‘extra Vitamin D’ to put the wartime toddler back on his feet.

Similarly well known brands such as Ryvita once battled Brooklax Chocolate Laxative and successfully increased its market share whilst useful advice on straining vegetables (when Brand’s Baby Foods were in short supply) might strike an ominous contemporary note as present shortages threaten. The remarkable wartime rationing scheme, masterminded by Profesor Patrick Drummond and the Ministry of Food, undoubtedly ensured an improved high fibre diet for my own childhood generation and much can still be learned of its continued benefit. But what of the sometimes more questionable ‘magic remedies’ available in what was still largely an unregulated market, despite 19th century legislation to prevent women from using arsenic products to make their skin ‘delicately pale’?

Despite a rather intimidating name, Bile Beans were a sure passport to womanly charms, it seems. In contrast for men, an alarming Hitler lookalike in a uniform named ‘Grandpa’ Kruschen coped admirably with ‘dangerous, poisonous waste matter in his system’ as well as successfully overcoming backache, headaches and rheumatic pains with a daily dose at just a fraction of the cost of an expensive visit to the pre-NHS surgery. Following sound advice much was made by the manufacturers of the merits of Vitamin B in DCL Yeast Tablets whilst the legendary Beecham’s Powders banished ‘the excrutiating pain’ of lumbago as well as sorting out headaches, nerve pains, rheumatic twinges, colds and chills then and, of course, to this day.