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|The Birth of the NHS|
Aneurin Bevan, the post-War Labour Minister of Health, believed that society should collectively contribute, through a National Insurance scheme, to provide free health care for all. In July 1948 the National Health Service Act was born, heralding the birth of the Welfare State.
Until then, only the well-off and those in work were catered for. The National Health Service (NHS) would address the inequalities that left vast number of Britons suffering through lack of money to pay for healthcare. The government became caretaker of Britain's 2,688 hospitals in England and Wales.
Resourcing this venture was problematic from the outset. The cost of administering the service, researching new cures and maintenance of hospital buildings was far greater than the government had first thought. But the most taxing concern of all was the chronic shortage of nurses. Britain found itself with a new expanding health service which it was unable to staff.
Why were British people unwilling to train as nurses? In the wake of the post-War boom, men were reluctant to work long hours, in poor conditions, for low pay. Single women, with their newfound freedom, were being more selective about their career choices, opting for occupations such as secretaries and journalists. In the 1950s and early 1960s married women's place was still considered to be in the home.
Creators: Linda Ali
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