Lloyd George Predicts the NHS

It was Lloyd George who introduced state old age pensions, as well as state medical insurance for the working classes allowing those insured to get medical treatment from an approved panel doctor. There were limits, however. Treatment only went to the insured person, not their relatives. The insurance didn’t cover the cost of hospital treatment, except for tuberculosis treatment. There was, however, a maternity grant. Despite its limitations, George appears to have looked forward to the future appearance of something like the NHS. In 1919 he founded the Ministry for Health in line with his statement ‘at no distant date, the state will acknowledge a full responsibility in the nature of provision for sickness’. I found this in Roy Porter’s Blood & Guts: A short History of Medicine (London: Penguin 2002) 160-1. Porter says, however, of the new ministry that it was more of a substitute rather than a springboard for action.

Nevertheless, a part of the foundations of the future NHS had been made, and it shows you how the far the Tories are trying to take us back that with the privatisation of the NHS they are trying to remove state healthcare provision. Just as Maggie wished.

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