National Health Service

A Political History
Webster, Charles
Date published: 
January 2002
Revised edition

The foundation of the National Health Service on 5 July 1948 was a momentous development in the history of the United Kingdom. Issues of health care touch the lives of everyone, and the NHS has come to be regarded as the cornerstone of the welfare state and as a model for state-organised health care systems elsewhere. Yet throughout its history, the Service has existed in an atmosphere of crisis. Charles Webster's political history is an entirely new and original examination of the NHS from its inception through to its management under the first term of the current Labour government, providing the necessary framewrork for assessing its future as we enter the new millennium.

The NHS was established at a time when health care in the United Kingdom was desperately in need of improvement. This updated edition of Charles Webster's classic study begins by looking at the political decisions surrounding the foundation of the NHS on 5 July 1948 and the purpose which it was intended to serve. Although every government since has declared its intention to maintain and improve it, the NHS has been faced with almost cyclical problems. Charles Webster's n arrative concentrates on policy issues of major import to the patient and consumer including funding, resources, and health issues, as well as recognizing the achievements and limitations of this major national institution. In addition to concentrating on the last fifty years, he looks ahead to the future of the NHS, suggesting that a Royal Commission be set up to make a thorough investigation of the organization and structure of the service, and to suggest a way forward into the twenty-first century.

New edition - updated to cover the first term of current Labour government