The National Health Service: A Political History

The National Health Service: A Political History

The National Health Service: A Political History

The National Health Service: A Political History

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

This historical review of the National Health Service, timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary, requires no special explanation. The tendency for lapses in the collective memory, even about quite recent events, together with a multiplicity of ill-founded myths about the more distant past, argue for the utility of a fresh examination of the history of the NHS as a whole. This book makes no pretence to deal with all aspects of health care during the period under consideration, nor to give more than a limited insight into medical advances. It concentrates on points involving political controversy and central issues of policy-making, hopefully in an accessible manner, with the aim of explaining why the health service was established and the steps by which it has reached the internal market structure favoured in the 1990s. This political subject matter is sufficiently complex, important, and topical to merit concentrated attention, but I have also tried to convey an impression of the health service as a humane activity. The first chapter, Creation and Consolidation, characterizes the health service during the inter-war period, followed by an account of preparations for a comprehensive health service during the Second World War and under the post-war Labour government, and finally of the first phase of the NHS ending in 1964. The second chapter, Planning and Reorganization, takes the history of the health service from the onset of the first Wilson administration in 1964 to the end of the Callaghan administration in 1979. The third chapter, Continuous Revolution, deals with the long period of Conservative government from 1979 to 1997, ending with a brief sequel on the first few months of the Blair New Labour administration.

The three chapters represent reasonably natural divisions, but since each embraces a group of administrations, both Labour and Conservative, essential details relating to changes of government and rotation of English health ministers are included as an Appendix. For reasons that will be evident in the text, in the interests of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.