Health Care and the NHS

  • Glen O’Hara


In January 1962 the Health Secretary, Enoch Powell, announced details of the most ambitious project hitherto mounted by the National Health Service: hospital plans for ten to fifteen years ahead. In an extraordinary example of planning’s appeal across the political spectrum, the otherwise free-market Powell lauded ‘the opportunity to plan the hospital service on a scale not possible anywhere else, certainly on this side of the Iron Curtain’.1 This was a remarkable about-face, for the 1950s had seen the NHS relatively starved of resources as a share of national income. In relation to other social services, the NHS lost out to the Conservatives’ initial housing drive and the rising costs of social security: by 1959 health spending was scarcely higher than it had been in 1951, as can be seen from Figure 7.1. Most of Britain’s welfare state in this period has justifiably been characterised as ‘austere’: in that case, health spending was even more austere than were government outlays in other sectors .2 As the figure also shows, however, money flowed much more freely after 1959, and a decade of generally very large rises in NHS spending lay ahead. What was behind this reversal?


Local Authority Health Spending General Practition Welfare Service Capital Expenditure 
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Copyright information

© Glen O’Hara 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glen O’Hara
    • 1
  1. 1.Oxford Brookes UniversityUK

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