Attitudes to healthcare—then and nowBMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c6205 (Published 03 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6205
- Peter Davies, freelance journalist, London
Were the 1950s a lost golden age of social solidarity, buoyed by peace, prosperity, and universal welfare provision? Or was Britain then still dominated by class-bound attitudes, the dreary rules of petty officialdom, and a shabby, monochrome austerity that accompanied the second world war’s economic hangover? Did the nation really blossom into colour only with the new affluence and freedoms of the 1960s, before lapsing into a harsher mood in the 1970s, one still familiar today?
The British Film Institute’s project Boom Britain showcases 32 short documentary films made between 1951 and 1977. There could hardly be a more vivid way of examining the nation’s postwar social history, and among them is a clutch of films with health related themes, all dating from the 1950s and 1960s. These were commissioned mainly by charities, although one was funded by the NHS and another by a drug company. Some of their topics were controversial in their day, others are more controversial now. Some films were widely screened, others only ever reached a select audience. One won an Oscar. As with most documentaries, they …