NHS photos over 40 years show nurses cuddling patients and relaxing off-duty with fags and booze – showing the way it used to be

They’re also seen perusing some quality reading material during a tea break.

The snaps form part of a captivating collection that show how the health service has changed over the last 40 years.

They’re were all taken at Peterborough District Hospital in Cambridgeshire and are the work of paramedic Chris Porsz who first started working there in 1974.

He explained: "Head staff at the hospital knew I enjoyed photography so invited me to document what goes on behind the scenes over the years.

“There have been huge changes in the NHS during the decades and it's fascinating to look back at the pictures now and see how different it used to be."

Elsewhere staff are seen checking printed x-rays and one female medic is seen getting to grips with an antique computer.

Other early photos show smiling hospital cleaners hard at work, neatly-dressed nurses and porters ferrying a patient out of an ambulance.

More recent snaps show radiographers using state-of-the-art equipment and surgeons performing an operation.

But smiles are never far away with staff dancing in the corridors and sharing playful moments together.

Chris first began work as a porter at the hospital, which was closed in 2010 and re-built on a different site as Peterborough City Hospital.

He recalled: "We all have very fond memories of the old hospital. It was a bit like a village and a lot smaller so you quickly got to know everyone and we all had a lot of time for each other.

"Now the hospital is quite anonymous, with big long corridors and everyone keeps to their own wards and offices, so it's a very different atmosphere.

"It's quite relentless for doctors and nurses now, with many working 12-hour shifts, but in the past there was more time to socialise."

Chris said that some of the biggest changes were in the A and E department, where victims of car crashes were very common in the 1970s.

He said: "In the past, before seat belt laws were introduced, the trauma was horrendous.

"I remember going along a line of six victims on trolleys with a bucket and sponge to wipe the blood away so that the nurses and doctors could see the wounds. They would then spend hours picking out the glass and suturing.

"A and E staff would consist of a doctor, sister, staff nurse, auxiliary nurse, cleaner and radiographer, who was on call if needed.

"It's rare to see such carnage now, but the A and E wards are busier than ever.”

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