Intended for healthcare professionals


The politics of a cradle to grave NHS

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 18 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:692

National Health Service provision from “cradle to grave” has been a popular commitment by British politicians, from Winston Churchill onwards, for the past 50 years. It is also a definition from which they are reluctant to retreat. The modern version, cited by health minister John Bowis last week, is that state health care “starts before the cradle, but cannot go beyond the grave.” The point at issue nowadays is how far short of the grave should it stop?

Mr Bowis was giving evidence to the Commons health committee after the publication of new guidance on NHS responsibility for continuing care (4 March, p 550). The guidance is intended to deflect criticism that the NHS is defaulting in …

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