Originally appeared on Huffington Post on July 5, 2018.
National Health Service Junior Doctors on strike outside Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital over cuts to NHS programs, April 2016. Photo: Roger Blackwell.
At the beginning of the 20th century, British health care was in shambles: fragmented, inadequate and largely propped up by private philanthropy. In 1911, the liberal government introduced the National Insurance Act, but it was very limitedand covered only workers, not their dependents.
When the Labour Party ascended to power in 1945, its health minister, Aneurin Bevan, was prepared to defend a new system of health care provision that was opposed, in his words, to the “hedonism of capitalist society.”
Described as a “squalid nuisance” by Winston Churchill and a “medical Führer” by the British Medical Association, Bevan laid out clear principles for the creation of the National Health Service that were built neither around apolitical concerns about economic efficiency nor technocratic concerns of functionality. By funding health care through general taxation and making it free at the point of service, the primary goal behind the NHS was to abolish class privilege in health care.
In a leaflet distributed shortly before the NHS opened, the service was described as a program whereby: “Everyone... (read more)