The National Health is a bleak and blackly comic glimpse into the everyday life of the NHS and its patients.
Five beds in a hospital ward; one empty, having been vacated overnight, soon to be filled by the arrival of an MP with leg cramps and memory loss. The four other beds are filled with carping patients in various stages of convalescence or decline, and various stages of resignation to the boredoms and humiliations of the hospital. The nurses and doctors on the ward struggle against long hours, low funding and overwork. Intercut with the darkly comic scenes are scenes from a histrionic hospital soap opera, the reality behind them giving the lie to whitewashed scenes of medical glamour.
The first production of The National Health was given in 1969 at the National Theatre, London.