Tuesday, July 01, 2008

NHS at 60, A Conservative policy implemented!

It is often said by Labour that they are the founders of the NHS and so on and so forth. Some even allege that the Conservative party was against it.

Nothing could possibly be further from the truth.

The Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill was not only in favour of it but passed an NHS bill in 1943. The Labour leadership opposed the formation of the NHS initially until they realised they would be lynched by both the PLP, their wider membership and the country when they relented.

It was a proposal by a Liberal (Sir William Beveridge) to a Conservative (Winston Churchill) opposed by Labour initially.

There is no doubt that we would have done it differently but don't let Labour con you that the NHS was either there idea or we would not have it without them.

If you do not believe me see the end of this article by Trevor Kavanagh in the Sun or this article in the Telegraph.

Alas you don't read a lot of the real founding fathers of the NHS in the Guardian, because despite Alan Rusbridger's all star cast of public school boys and girls they appear ignorant of history.


Anonymous said...

Don't disgrace the name of Aneurin Bevan with such tripe.

The Tories wanted a National Health Insurance not a service. The only reason Churchill passed it was to make himself electable.

Benedict White said...

Where is your evidence?

Anonymous said...

Are you stupid!!? The Tories opposed a forming of the NHS and sided with the BMA. Here is a quote "Bevan's National Health Service Act passed through Parliament quite easily, despite Conservative opposition" (Fraser, 2003, The Evolution of the British Welfare State, page 278). And from wikipedia: "Willink then set about trying to assuage the doctors, a job taken over by Aneurin Bevan in Clement Attlee's Labour government after the war ended. Bevan encountered considerable debate and resistance from the BMA who voted in May 1948 not to join the new service" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_National_Health_Service_(England)).

Benedict White said...

No I am not stupid. Are you?

The point here is that there was legitimate opposition to the proposed structure of the NHS (which clearly was bonkers and still is) as opposed to the principle of the NHS which is a different thing.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I take back calling you stupid, that was childish and I'm sorry.

From all that I have read it was the Tories who opposed the entire NHS deal, even the point that on principle it would be nice. And I can't see how it was a bad idea to have the NHS, in poor areas there was only one doctor for every 18,000 people, this was closer to 1 in 250 in rich areas. People were starving in the post war years, housing was terrible, work was harsh when available, insurance was unaffordable. Sure it was expensive but it restrained the doctors from acting like pirates chasing the gold and brought a real health change to poorer people.

Yeah sure, an insurance based system would have been better for the economy but it would have been worse for public health. Just look at the USA, they spend more on healthcare than any other country (or very high up at least, can't remember)but have one of the poorest health records than most developed nations.


Benedict White said...

Ok... There is no doubt that public health provision was patchy in 1939 though it was far from non existent.

It was obvious after the 1930's that something had to be done which is why Churchill's (primarily Conservative) government got Beveridge (A Liberal) to produce a report on issues like poverty and health.

In principle all parties agreed. Where the differences were was implementation.