The first government elected in 1945 after the end of the Second World War to replace the coalition headed by Sir Winston Churchhill was formed by the socialist-leaning centre left, Labour party led by Clement Atlee (Prime Minister 1945-1951). He had made manifesto commitments to implement the recommendations of the Beveridge Report of 1942. The report’s recommendation to create “comprehensive health and rehabilitation services for prevention and cure of disease was implemented across the United Kingdom by 1948. Aneurin Bevan was Minister of Health (1945-1951), who spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service. The services were initially funded through general taxation and National Insurance as part of the introduction of a wider Welfare State. They were initially free at the point of use.
However financial constraints meant that Hugh Gaitskill,
the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1950-51, soon introduced some charges for prescription glasses and false teeth in response to economic difficulties related to looming war in Korea. This led to the resignation of Aneurin Bevan seeing the prescription charges as a blow to the principle of a free health service. Later that year they lost power to the centre right, Conservative party yet the principle at free health care at the point of use has been held dear by Britons to this very day.
However, with an expenditure of the NHS 2012-2013. (£108.9 billion for National Health Service (England), £3.9bn for Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, £9.38bn for NHS Scotland, £5.3bn for NHS Wales) and ever increasing, is the NHS sustainable?
The Coalition (Conservative/Liberal Democrats) Government has allowed Private prescriptions within the NHS. Is this the Beginning of the End?
We will be seeking to explore this.