National Health Service in the UK

(NHS negligence)

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is much maligned these days as issues with funding continually plague the service.

However, when it was founded back in 1948 it was heralded as part of a new dawn for British healthcare after six miserable years of war.

The NHS was the cornerstone of the post-war Labour government’s commitment to build what the BBC website describes as a “new Jerusalem in an impoverished Britain”.

It was introduced by the then health minister Nye Bevan, based in part on recommendations in the 1942 Beveridge Report.

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    If you have suffered from physical or even psychological harm from substandard treatment by the NHS it is possible you can claim against the NHS for medical negligence compensation. Call our claims helpline for free advice on 0333 987 4161

    There is a procedure to be followed when making a complaint. Check that your medical issues are grounds for negligence, and not a simple complaint procedure. Complaints about procedure dissatisfaction, or seeking an apology / admission for lack of care / treatment should go to PALS.

    Negligence or malpractice can occur in a wide range of situations, including botched operations, the failure to diagnose a condition or disease, inappropriate treatment or the failure to properly monitor a patient during or after treatment. All can have devastating effects on the patient and his or her family. Read more here

    Bevan wanted to ensure all the people of Britain could receive the best medical care available for free

    Prior to this time health care in the UK was pretty much an expensive luxury, available to those able to pay the fees or with insurance premiums.

    Workers on lower pay could access a doctor for free, but the insurance premiums rarely provided cover for their wives or children.

    At that time hospitals also charged for services, and to receive treatment patients had to pay the fee upfront, which was reimbursed to poor people afterwards.

    In the years between the two world wars, many went without resulting in thousands of British citizens dying of infectious diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and polio.

    Five percent of children under the age of one were dying as parents couldn’t get the necessary treatment to save them.

    Whilst the Prime Minister Winston Churchill was plotting victory in the Second World War, the coalition Government still had domestic issues to address including social reform.

    Under a Labour Government led by Clement Atlee following a landslide victory in the 1945 general election, the NHS was implemented to improve the health of the nation

    It was a period of more state control as the Government nationalized major industries and public utilities, as well as implementing a new National Health Service.

    Not everyone was in favour of a new NHS when the Health Bill was voted for in Parliament in 1946, including the opposition Conservative Party. The British Medical Association was also opposed to nationalising both the charity hospitals and the former poor law hospitals, which had been run by local authorities.

    BMA members feared Bevan would remove doctors’ professional independence, and their right to buy or sell general practices.

    Bevan worked tirelessly to win his opponents round, and eventually got the consultants on board by allowing them to continue their private practices alongside working in the health service.

    Doctors soon appreciated the fact that by refusing to treat health service patients their income would be drastically reduced.

    By the time the NHS was set in motion 90 percent of the doctors were on board, as Bevan promised legislation that ensured they would not become salaried civil servants, although he still managed to take from them the right to buy and sell practices.

    The new service naturally brought about a huge surge of demand for medical care from the many people previously unable to afford treatment.

    The NHS years have seen many medical advances including the invention of a vaccine for polio and the birth control pill in the 1950s, to laser and keyhole surgery techniques developed since the 1980s.

    The results are plain to see that the NHS has brought about a marked improvement in British healthcare, as men and women are living on average 10 years longer than they did in 1948.

    Many believe that the creation of the NHS was one of Britain’s greatest reforms of the 20th century.