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Surgical instrument set and canvas bag, Europe, 1941

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Inside the canvas bag are a range of surgical instruments, including an amputation saw, forceps and scissors. The kit was approved and issued by the Ministry of Health Emergency Hospital Service (EHS). Established in 1939 by the British Government, the EHS was intended to oversee the treatment of the large number of civilian casualties that were expected to be the result of bombing campaigns during the Second World War. Directed by the Ministry of Health (now the Department of Health), the EHS was dissolved in 1948 with the introduction of the National Health Service.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: surgical instrument set

Set of instruments to be used for surgery. A physician would often build up their own collection of favoured tools in order to feel as comfortable as possible when carrying out surgery.

Glossary: forceps

A pliers-like medical instrument used to grasp tissue.