openNHS

Why the NHS needs to remain a National Health Service in the 21st Century

1.A Free Health Service
2.A Communal Responsibility
3.State Funding of the NHS
4.The NHS is not a Welfare State
5.Triumphant Collective Action
6.The Cautious Medical Profession
7.Pay Beds in the NHS
8.The Equipment of a Civilized Society

 

A Communal Responsibility

The same story is now being unfolded in the field of curative medicine. Here individual and collective action are joined in a series of dramatic battles. The collective principle asserts that the resources of medical skill and the apparatus of healing shall be placed at the disposal of the patient, without charge, when he or she needs them; that medical treatment and care should be a communal responsibility, that they should be made available to rich and poor alike in accordance with medical need and by no other criteria.

It claims that financial anxiety in time of sickness is a serious hindrance to recovery, apart from its unnecessary cruelty. It insists that no society can legitimately call itself civilized if sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.

Preventable pain is a blot on any society. Much sickness and often permanent disability arise from failure to take early action, and this in its turn is due to high costs and the fear of the effects of heavy bills on the family. The records show that it is the mother in the average family who suffers most from the absence of a free health service. In trying to balance her domestic budget she puts her own needs last.

Society becomes more wholesome more serene, and spiritually healthier, if it knows that its citizens have at the back of their consciousness the knowledge that not only themselves, but all their fellows, have access, when ill, to the best that medical skill can provide. But private charity and endowment, although inescapably essential at one time, cannot meet the cost of all this.

If the is to be done, the state must accept financial responsibility.

(Excerpts from Bevan, A. 1952. “A Free Health Service”. In “In Place of Fear”: 77-97)

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Page Updated: 27 May, 2017

 

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