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Wednesday, 15th May 2013

UK: Duty to Care: In Defence of Universal Health Care

Source: Centre for Labour and Social Studies (UK)

From Executive Summary:

The Beveridge Report of 1942 noted the threat to society from the Giant Evil of ‘disease’ and announced the intention to provide a nationwide health service which would cover medical treatment for all requirements. In 1946 the aim was embodied in law and in 1948 the NHS came into being. The NHS has been an international model ever since because it provided what no other country in the world has achieved at the same cost: universal health care in the form of equal access to comprehensive care, irrespective of personal income. The Health and Social Care Bill 2011 passed into law without an electoral mandate because no major political party or parliamentary institution in England was willing or able to defend the NHS and the principles it encapsulated. It was a constitutional outrage.

In this paper, we first show how the original welfare state model of the NHS enshrined government responsibility for universal health care in the duty on the Secretary of State to secure or provide comprehensive health services. The architects of the NHS recognised that equity in health care could only be achieved by sharing the risks and costs of care across the whole of society from rich to poor and from healthy to sick. It was for this reason they embedded solidarity and collective provision into the structures and mechanisms underpinning the system of funding and for delivery of care. Behind these arrangements was the Secretary of State’s core duty to provide or secure a comprehensive health service, a duty repealed by the first clause of the Health and Social Care Act. The duty originated in 1946 legislation that made the government responsible for provision to the whole population of all medical, dental and nursing care.

+ Direct link to Paper (PDF; 490 KB)



Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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