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NHS 50p

by Simon Barker

nhs 50p

  • Circulation: 5,001,000
  • Year issued: 1998
  • Value circulated: 50p
  • Value circulated in excellent condition: £2.50
  • Value uncirculated: £10.00
  • Composition: cupro-nickel
  • Scarcity index: 13

In 1948 the Government introduced the National Health Service. To commemorate this life changing national achievement the Royal Mint produced an NHS 50p for its 50th anniversary. This coin is valuable in its own right and is also of interest to anyone interested in the Country’s history.

History of The Coin

In 1948 when the NHS was introduced, the UK was still using Imperial currency and the 50p piece didn’t exist. In 1969 the first 50p coin was minted as part of the decimalisation process. Instead of using pounds, shillings and pence, the UK would be using the simpler system of 100 pennies to a pound.

The 50p was the 3rd coin minted ready for when decimalisation took place in 1971. It’s distinctive 7 sided shape makes it easy to identify and the design of this coin has only changed once.

The Royal Mint use the 50p to commemorate special events in the UK and this one celebrates the 50th anniversary of the NHS.

About the NHS

Prior to 1948, healthcare was not free and many poorer people relied on charitable organisations if they needed help. In 1948 Aneurin Bevan’s government passed legislation to introduce the National Health Service.

This new service provided free healthcare for all, regardless of their ability to pay. This meant that everyone would now benefit from good quality health care.

There have been many changes over the years the first of which was the introduction of prescription charges, and later fees were introduced for glasses and dentistry. These charges were well below what the cost would be for private treatment so everyone could now benefit.

Since it was first set up, the NHS has continued to grow with new services being offered, such as those for mental health, and it is now one of the biggest employers in the country.

How Many NHS 50p Coins Were Made?

A total of 5,100,000 NHS 50p coins were circulated, with limited edition coins also being produced.

Design and Designer

  • Front design:

The design shows lines radiating out from a pair of hands, similar to the sun’s rays. The words ‘Fiftieth Anniversary’ appear on it with ‘NHS’ written 5 times around the edge.

  • Obverse design:

The obverse shows the 4th portrait of Her Majesty the Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley

  • Designer: David Cornell

The designer behind the NHS 50p is David Cornell, a renowned artist and sculptor.

David studied at the Central School of Art in London and the Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia, and he has worked with artists such as Picasso and Dali.

His work as a sculptor has included many portraits of the Royal family, as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Leonardo Di Caprio.

He was first appointed to the Royal Mint as an engraver in 1964, and then for Franklin Mint shortly after. His work included designing seals, medals and coins for Franklin Mint as well as for commissions from the Royal Mint. His most famous coin to date is the Princess Diana Memorial £5 coin.


The NHS 50p was first issued in 1998 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the NHS and 5,100,000 were circulated. In 2009 a limited number were minted as part of the 40th anniversary of the 50p piece commemorative set.

  • Brilliant Uncirculated coins were produced
  • 9,032 Silver proof coins
  • 5,117 Silver Proof Piedfort
  • 651 Gold Proof.

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