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.
Financial institutions such as insurance companies were also involved with the financial side of medical practice. Insurance was a common way for the less well-off to pay for medical cover. This insurance could be provided either by an insurance company, by someone's employer, or by a Trade Union (through a 'sick club') or friendly society.
Those who were unable to fund their own care, either by their own means or through insurance, received very basic assistance from the public purse. From 1867 until 1930, people who had infectious diseases, as well as those who were badly ill or aged and unable to pay for their own treatment, could be cared for by the Metropolitan Asylum Board (MAB). This operated as a part of the Poor Law system, which also included institutions such as workhouses. The MAB operated a number of hospitals, sanatoria, and other institutions, and was funded by rates paid to local councils. Its duties were handed over to the London County Council in 1930.
As the population grew and the cost and complexity of medical treatments increased, this system became less and less satisfactory. The Liberal government of 1905-1915 introduced social reforms such as compulsory National Insurance, which contributed to sick pay. This, however, only affected those in employment. It was not until the passing of the National Health Service Act in 1946 that a legislatory framework existed for universal public healthcare.
What are these?
Social Bookmarking allows users to save and categorise a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others. This is different to using your own browser bookmarks which are available using the menus within your web browser. Use the links below to share this article on the social bookmarking site of your choice. Read more about social bookmarking at Wikipedia - Social Bookmarking.