With Brexit only weeks (or perhaps even days) away from being triggered, and the UK’s divorce from the European Customs Union finally about to be ratified, it seems like a good moment to consider the other big political changes which the UK, as a nation, have been through. Undoubtedly the creation of the NHS and the protection of an effective national health service falls into this category. Not only was it a bold move on the global political stage at the time, but it was one which was as unique as it was optimistic, making a powerful statement about how the politics of the future should happen: led by the needs of people, rather than the ruling class.
The NHS and its radical history
In 1945, following the Second World War, Clement Attlee ran as the Labour candidate within a nation that was tired of war and traditionalist approaches to government – a nation that was becoming increasingly left-leaning and socialist. The Labour Party won by 10.5% of the vote in a thunderous upset, capturing 393 of the 640 seats under a manifesto called ‘Let us Face the Future Together’. It offered a departure from the past, including comprehensive reforms to social security, a national health service and the nationalisation of core industries.
When in power, they wasted no time. In 1946 Parliament passed the revolutionary National Insurance Act. It instituted a comprehensive state health service. The Act provided for compulsory contributions for unemployment, sickness, maternity and widows’ benefits and old age pensions from employers and employees, with the government funding the balance.
Initially, the system was setup so that hospitals charged patients for treatments, and then this was reimbursed by the Health Service. This was to ensure the system was not flooded by the national interest and demand, but soon the government also announced plans for a National Health Service that would be ‘free to all who want to use it’.
Something you might not know about the NHS …
There was a substantial pushback against this move within the health industry, who felt that they may lose the ability to provide effective healthcare and remain autonomous as an industry. Also, many of the healthcare professionals came from a largely Tory background, who felt cheated by the result of the election. Between 1946 and its introduction in 1948, the British Medical Association (BMA) mounted a vigorous campaign against this proposed legislation. In one survey of doctors carried out in 1948, the BMA claimed that only 4,734 doctors out of the 45,148 polled, were in favour of a National Health Service.
A roundabout history of the NHS
Has the NHS been a success?
In purely medical terms the argument for the NHS is extremely strong. On almost every scale, the NHS has been pivotal in providing a strong education covering many areas of health, with memorable moments such as the highly controversial AIDS campaign, sexual health in schools and the promotion of healthy lifestyles through advertising campaigns.
Thanks to improvements in diet and lifestyle, the UK hold the 20th spot for life expectancy with men having a life expectancy of 81.1 and women of 83. The NHS has also ensured that medicine is not prohibitively expensive for the elderly and take proactive steps to prevent the contraction and spread of life destroying and deadly diseases such as Polio, Measles, Mumps, Meningitis and Rubella for children. They also provide protection from typhoid, hepatitis and cholera for anyone wishing to travel to exotic countries.
Indeed, today the NHS can be used to access many services beyond emergency medical procedures including the birth control pill, IVF treatments, keyhole surgery options, mental health medicines and support for dependants. These services are not only not covered by standard insurance policies in other countries, but are industries which are not monitored and regulated in the same manner.
“The NHS is one of the greatest achievements in history. Before that, healthcare in this country was a disaster, particularly if you were poor. The unmet needs were not known until the NHS started, and people who had been ill for years and years came forward for help because they did not have to worry about paying for it.” Dr Marks. Former chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA)
Something you might not know about the NHS…
When the NHS was introduced in 1948, it sparked a surge of demand for medical care from people who had previously been denied access to free treatment. In 1948 hospital waiting lists stood at 500,000. Today the figure is over a million and on a typical day, 700,000 people visit their GP.
Lexmar Direct: Happy to play our small role within the NHS Family
The idea of an NHS was bold and powerful. It helped those who had a desperate need, and while we cannot hold our own modest ideals in such lofty esteem, we are happy to be the number one provider of locking products for compliance with CQC Inspections. Along with thousands of other companies who provide products that directly impact those within the NHS, we are very proud to ensure the highest standard of products to ensure the best level of care and protection.
We take solace in the fact that each day our products help people within the NHS to simply and effectively protect against theft, to assist with specific conditions such as Prader Willi syndrome and Altziemers and offer a great value for money solution with a lifetime guarantee on all of our super-strong locks.
If you have any questions regarding our products, please get in touch now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.