Introducing the Rhetoric of Gratitude project

This poster from the 1920s, displayed at the Royal Brompton hospital, reminds patients of their ‘duty’ of gratitude.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has come in for increasing criticism over the past few years, both from within and without the system. Newspaper reports tell of neglected patients and money-grubbing GPs, and concerns about a target-driven culture, privitasation and staffing levels create an impression of a system at breaking point. Yet, the NHS is a cherished institution about which many feel passionately defensive. One of the drivers of morale in a beleaguered NHS is the gratitude that patients express in a myriad of ways, almost all of which are informal.