Medicine 1900-1948

Medicine 1900-1948

Prior to the creation of the NHS in 1948, people accessed medical care in a variety of ways. Private insurance, friendly societies, charitable institutions, and 'doctors' clubs' co-existed with very basic public provision for those too poor to pay for their treatment or who suffered from infectious diseases. As a result of technological progress, the complexity and expense of the treatments offered also increased as the century wore on. By the time of the Second World War, it was generally recognised that this system was unsustainable. A report by Sir William Beveridge recommended the creation of a National Health Service that would be free at point of use. This was finally implemented by Clement Attlee's Labour government in 1948.

The ability to pay was, for some, an important consideration in obtaining medical attention. Because many people could not afford to pay for their medical treatment in one single payment, some doctors ran schemes where patients could pay a small sum each week for medical cover. This was often not very lucrative for doctors, but ensured a basic level of cover for those who could not otherwise afford it.

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