So setting up the National Care Service ‘would be unjustifiably costly and disruptive during a time of financial crisis’. Anyone recall what conditions were like when the NHS was established?
From the Nuffield Trust – ‘1948–1957: Establishing the National Health Service’: Sir Wilson Jameson, Chief Medical Officer to the Ministry of Health at the time, described the situation in 1947, the year before the NHS began:
‘The eighth year of austerity, 1947, was a testing year. Its first three months formed a winter of exceptional severity, which had to be endured by a people who in addition to rationing of food were faced with an unprecedented scarcity of fuel. These three months of snow and bitter cold were followed by the heaviest floods for 53 years, which did great damage, killed thousands of sheep and lambs, delayed spring sowing and threatened the prospect of a good harvest which was so urgently needed.
‘Immediately after these four months of disastrous weather there followed a period of economic crisis with an ever-increasing dollar crisis.
‘So acute was the crisis that restrictions more rigorous than any in the war years became necessary. Bread had to be rationed for the first time late in 1946; in September 1947, the meat ration was reduced; in October the bacon ration was halved; and in November potatoes were rationed. A steep rise in the prices of foodstuffs and cattle food followed disappointing harvests in many European countries, due to the hard winter and hot dry summer, and in certain crops, notably corn for animal food, in America. Affairs abroad were as depressing as conditions at home.’
There were special interest groups back in the mid 1940s that sought to prevent the establishment of the NHS!