Since its inauguration on 5 July 1948, the National Health Service, a comprehensive health service for the entire community, has been a source of pride for the United Kingdom. A unified system was created from a patchwork of random and unco-ordinated local authority and charitable welfare provision. It was the culmination of various welfare schemes pioneered in the early twentieth century and the increasing role of the State in safeguarding the health of the people. The Second World War Emergency Medical Service in London offered a model for how a national system could work and a vision for a better post-war world. Although idealistic young doctors supported state medicine, their older colleagues resisted change and feared they would become no more than civil servants, but won concessions in the political battles of the time which brought them round to the new system. However, ever increasing demand and the rising cost of medicine as it became more technological added new pressures.
Kevin Brown is Archivist to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Curator of the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum, St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. He is the author of books on the history of medicine, and military and maritime history, most recently 'The Seasick Admiral: Nelson and the Health of the Navy' (Seaforth Publishing, 2015).
Price: Free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door). This talk is preceded at 7pm by the Society's AGM (open to CHS members only).