Authorities and Partisans: The Debate on Unemployment and Health

Authorities and Partisans: The Debate on Unemployment and Health

Authorities and Partisans: The Debate on Unemployment and Health

Authorities and Partisans: The Debate on Unemployment and Health

Excerpt

The year 1974 saw a major upheaval in the organisation of the British National Health Service. One aspect of the reorganisation was a fundamental change in the role of public health, and in the status of the public health physicians, the Medical Officers of Health (MOsH). New Regional, Area and District Health Authorities took over the functions previously carrried out by Medical Officers of Health in local government Public Health Departments. The functions of the MOsH were combined with those of the Medical Administrators of the old Regional Hospital Boards, and the medical staff of the university departments of public health and social medicine, to form the new speciality of Community Medicine. The function of these specialists was to investigate and assess the needs of the population so that priorities could be established for the promotion of health and the prevention of disease, as well as the provision of medical care.

In 1975 a small research and policy unit, the Unit for the Study of Health Policy (USHP) began to operate within Guy's Hospital's Department of Community Medicine with a brief 'to promote informed discussion on health policy' at this time of change. The unit was initially funded for five years by the King Edward Hospital Fund for London ('The King's Fund'). The Unit's director was Dr Peter Draper, previously Senior Lecturer in Social Medicine at Guy's.

In December 1975, Draper read an article in The Financial Times , written byC. Gordon Tether who was at that time the 'Lombard' columnist. The topic was the work of an American academic, M. Harvey Brenner, on the social and health costs of unemployment. Brenner had written a report 'Estimating the social costs of national economic policy' for the US Congress Joint Economic Committee in 1976, claiming that economic policy-makers needed to take account in the unemployment rate. The article struck a chord with Draper and some of his staff in two ways. As part of . . .

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