Falling back on charityBMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7072.1566 (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1566
- Robert Pinker
- Professor of social administration The London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A
Our rights to health care can only be met if we honour our obligations as tax payers
Christmas is the season of charitable enterprises. Last month, the London School of Economics commemorated the life and work of Professor Brian Abel-Smith, the distinguished British health economics and policy analyst. It is just over 40 years since he published his history, The Hospitals, in which he explored the mixture of professional interests and charitable sentiments that inspired the growth of the voluntary hospital movement in Britain.1
Abel-Smith was critical of the manner in which the largely unregulated exercise of clinical discretion and undirected benevolence sometimes distorted the ordering of priorities in the development of health care before 1946. At the same time, he was in no doubt that charitable endeavour and medical professionalism had always been forces for good in the enhancement of human welfare.
However, The Hospitals also stands out as a …