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nurses wearing gasmasks 1939

Before the NHS
Before 1870
Birth of the NHS

'1920 - 1942'

One of the biggest steps towards organising a National Health Service came in 1920 with the publishing of the Dawson Report. It recommended a comprehensive system - from establishing a single authority to look after all medical and allied services to providing standardised clinical records.

The next landmark was made in 1926 when the Royal Commission on National Health Insurance suggested separating the medical service from the insurance system and setting up instead, a service, which encompassed all public health activities paid for by public funds.

Then the Second World War brought more change. Although there were no statutory changes, the effects of war brought about significant developments in health care provision.

The creation of the Emergency Medical Service gave central government control over both the voluntary and local authority hospitals as well as taking responsibility for funding. This was the first time health care had not been paid for by local authority rates, patientís contributions or voluntary hospitals funds.

In 1941 the government commissioned an independent inquiry to look at the discrepancies in provision of hospital services across the whole country. It concluded that there were vastly differing standards which would remain the case unless a comprehensive overhaul were to take place. Photo Credit: Wellcome Trust


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