The National Health Service: A Political History


The National Health Service was established at a time when health care in the United Kingdom was desperately in need of improvement. This book looks at the political decisions surrounding its foundation and the purpose which it was intended to serve. Despite many changes of political ethossince its foundation on 5 July 1948, every government has declared its intention to maintain and improve the National Health Service. Nevertheless, the National Health Service has faced some almost cyclical problems, while apparently new ideas (for example, the introduction of a chief executive) infact have a long ancestry, and there is a drift towards a seemingly endless pattern of reorganization. Charles Webster's narrative concentrates on policy issues of major import to the patient and consumer including funding, resources, and health issues, as well as recognizing the achievements and limitations of this major national institution. In addition to concentrating on the last fifty years, helooks ahead to the future of the NHS, suggesting that a Royal Commission be set up to make a thorough investigation of the organization and structure of the service, and to suggest a way forward into the twenty-first century.

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