Where we are and where we will be

Where we are and where we will be
The idea of Edinburgh is a combination of place, soul and symbolic leadership of a nation

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Happy Birthday NHS

I was proud and humbled to be out in the streets of Edinburgh today encouraging people to sign a birthday card for the 60th anniversary of the NHS. It was Clement Attlee's Labour Government created the NHS out of the Labour values of equality, justice and fairness, not simple because it was a better way to manage health care and it is those values that need to be at the heart of any debate about the future of the NHS.

A some-one who has readily used the services of the NHS for many years both for my own ailments and those of my children I cannot sign its praises highly enough. I know that it doesn't get everything right and that, because of its size, managing its bureaucracy is very difficult but thanks to its existence literally millions of peoples lives are better, healthier and longer.

We saw how the market philosophy of the Thatcher years nearly destroyed it (and interestingly one of its main architects!)and there is no doubt that there continues to be much to do. But I would rather be trying to reform what we have than for example the American system where millions live without access because of their poverty or many continental systems where access is by the gatekeeper of insurance and where, for example, I have seen with my own eyes, ambulance drivers refuse to take some-one to hospital until they could show that they had cash in their wallet and an insurance card.

The values of the NHS are values that I believe in. that when we help others, even those we do not know, so we ourselves are helped, for what happens to our neighbour or to the stranger happens to us also.


John Wallace said...

Actually the idea of the NHS and indeed the welfare state came from William Beveridge who entered parliament for the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency for the Liberal Party.

His ideas also led to the passing of the National Insurance act in 1911 for Asquith's Liberal government.

Beveridge was asked to advise the Liberal Party's Lloyd George on Old Age Pensions and National Insurance; the government began to take action to combat poverty.

Being a talented economist, in 1942 he gave details of his radical plans for economic and social reform in post-war Britain. He promised major social changes on the basis that we need 'the abolition of want before the enjoyment of comfort' and suggested 'a scheme of medical treatment of every kind for everybody', social security benefits and state pension provision. This was covered by the BBC.

Although it was a labour government that actually brought in the NHS, all the work was already done for them, (a lot of it decades earlier) by the Liberals.

However, don't let mere facts get in the way of a good yarn.

btw - Beveridge went on to become Master of the best college in the land.

Interestingly, although in 1944 he wrote Full Employment in a Free Society for the Labour govt. he took a seat for Liberal.

It was in 1945 that Labour began implimenting the great Liberal's proposals which led to the welfare state.

Ewan said...


Couldn't disagree about Beverages role but what matters who made it happen. many folk have good ideas its the move from talk to action that makes the difference.

If you read Francis Becketts excellent biog of Clem Attlee you'll see that the idea itself was not enough, infact, without a political strategy, it would have been killed at birth by the the medical profession but thanks to Attlee's strength of purpose, we have an NHS to celebrate today...


Surgery Times

1st Wed @ Piershill Library, 30 Piershill Terrace.
2nd Wed @ Craigentinny Community Centre, Loaning Rd.
3rd Wed @ Duddingston Primary School, Duddingston Rd.

All 7:15pm -7:45pm

and the last Sat. Lochend YWCA, 198 Restalrig Road South
12noon -1pm

(no appointment needed, all during school terms)
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