Our magnificent National Health Service was set up in 1948, when the weather was awful, food still rationed, there was a shortage of fuel, and a dollar crisis. After the cataclysm of war an opportunity was provided to organise a new system of health care, most people believing that access to health care was part of a civilised society. Beveridge wanted to slay 'Want, Disease, Squalor, Ignorance and Idleness'.
In the 19th century health care was sporadic, relying on hospital charities, and the benevolent. The Webbs (well known socialists) argued for a state system, then there was the idea of an insurance system when you paid in when well to provide care needed when sick. In 1920 Lord Dawson put forward a plan on how the health service could be organised, and in 1929 local authorities took over Poor Law hospitals which were then serving ratepayers but not paupers. The LCC and Middx were doing a excellent job, but not the rest. In 1939 with the experience of WW2, an emergency medical service was instantly created, and in 1945 after various plans had been put forward by both Conservatives and Labour, Bevan presented a radically different plan favouring nationalisation. So, in a society wearied by war, but accustomed to austerity the NHS was started. Now we take the NHS for granted, yet it is only just over 60 years ago that health care was considered a luxury.
Since those early days the NHS has been under constant change. Politicians choosing to tinker at their peril with the 'free for all at the point of service' ethos. Now it is under its greatest financial and social pressure.
In 1997 under Newlabour 10 strategic authorities were put in charge of 200 Primary Care Trusts, but their new systems of financial flow, payment by results, and a tariff system destabilised NHS finances. NICE a new body was set up to assess the cost effectiveness of drugs. Mistakes were made in negotiation of contracts, particularly to GPs and Consultants, and that led to a temporary financial crisis in the NHS. Under Newlabour Private Sector organisations came to build and operate hospitals, and PPs to run clinical services etc.
Andrew Lansley, the new kid on the block plans to bring in 'efficiency savings', and Primary Care Trusts are to be replaced by GP led Consortiums. Why can't the NHS just be let alone for a bit, be allowed to find its own feet and not have to suffer another massive upheaval? Mr. Lansley reckons he will be saving money, but reorganisation is never cost free. Mr Lansley will have his own secret agenda and under cover of his promise to stop mixed sex wards he will be, like Newlabour privatising like mad by the back door!