Great Britain Passes the National Health Service Act (Great Events from History II: Business and Commerce Series)
Article abstract: The National Health Service Act of 1946 provided a comprehensive, state-run health service for all British residents, regardless of their ability to pay.
Summary of Event
The British National Health Service Act, passed on November 6, 1946, and designed to go into effect on July 5, 1948, was a watershed reform of the nation’s health care system. The legislation, although controversial while in Parliament and especially within its first several years of implementation, eventually received the support of much of the British medical community as well as broad acceptance across partisan lines. The National Health Service (NHS), despite some enduring criticisms, became the most popular feature of the British welfare state.
A commitment by the national government of Great Britain to the principle of medical assistance for the poor extended far back into British history. The Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601, for example, exhibited concern for the physical condition of the destitute. Wholesale reform of the system of poor laws did not occur until poor relief experienced severe stresses brought on by industrialization and urbanization, particularly in the early nineteenth century. The sheer size of the problems of poverty and disease seemed to demand a large-scale solution. The magnitude of poverty and disease were increasingly well documented by a generation of careful gatherers of statistical...
(The entire section is 1954 words.)
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