A retired nurse who was working before the creation of the NHS says she supports the campaign to save A&E.
Mary Sykes, who completed her medical training in the 1940s, spoke out as the NHS turns 69 today (Wednesday).
She says the job has changed significantly during her working years, but believes healthcare should still be a public service.
Locals are leading campaigns against the proposed reconfiguration of the local NHS provision in Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale.
Speaking from Aden Court Day Care Centre in Huddersfield where Mary now lives, she said: “They’re always making cuts to the NHS.
“But people need the services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s A&E department - they can’t travel to Halifax in an emergency.
“Where else would they go? It’s so close to the motorway.
“If they keep making cuts, the system could be privatised and people would end up paying for their healthcare - that’s ridiculous.”
Mary trained for four years at the now-defunct Royal Halifax Infirmary, as well as briefly in Blackpool, before working on call as a district nurse and later a health visitor.
She was presented with a gold long services badge in St James’ Palace in Westminster in 1974.
When she retired, she wrote a short book about how nursing changed over the decades called ‘40 Years On’.
“When I started, we didn’t even have penicillin. Many more people died because of infections like blood poisoning,” Mary, who lives in the care home with her older sister Annie Sykes, said.
“Illnesses are more treatable now, but they give out antibiotics like sweets.
“If someone got a bad chest, you slapped a poultice on their back. It was primitive.
“It was still a scanty wage back then - I think it began at 15 shillings per week - but we got our accommodation and meals paid for.”
Birky-based Barden Print published 200 copies of the book and local traders sold copies in their shops for around £10 each. The money raised from sales was donated to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
One copy is still available to read in the local history section of Golcar Library.