OPEN MEETING – ‘Hospitals before the NHS’ – talk by Dr Jane Pearson

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Our next Open Meeting is on Monday 20th November at the Bowling Club in Abbey Lane, doors open 1:45 pm for a 2:30 pm start. The subject of the talk is ‘Hospitals Before the NHS’, a very topical subject, and it will be delivered by Dr Jane Pearson. Free refreshments will be available and there is a free raffle. We look forward to seeing you there.

Before the NHS was created, an unequal system of healthcare existed for patients. This came, in part, from voluntary and municipal hospitals, which were run by local authorities following the historic Poor Law legislation. Treatments were performed by nurses and doctors who had spent time training with limited resources. In 1911, chancellor Lloyd George created a system of National Health Insurance. It meant those that offered contributions would receive money to assist them if they fell ill but it was only open to those who donated to the system.

The Poor Law also offered some financial aid to the poorest of families, and the local government’s Public Health System was another branch of aid for those ill. But the Labour government believed a good healthcare system should be available to all, regardless of wealth. While most people are now registered with a doctor, 70 years ago they did not have their own doctor.

Prior to the establishment of the NHS, babies were often born at home or in a nursing home attended by a midwife. Mothers would have to pay the midwife ‘one and six’ to deliver the baby. If they wanted a doctor to attend, this would also come at a cost – as would any medicine they required. Moving births from home into a medical environment had a positive impact on infant mortality rates, as mothers could get better care.

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