Fifty years ago: The new NHS: The plebiscite result

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 06 June 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1712

The present plebiscite, the results of which are analysed on another page, shows that the concessions made by Mr. Bevan have persuaded many medical men to change their attitude to the Act and their decision whether or not to enter the Service on July 5. In the plebiscite of February there was a 9 to 1 majority in an 84% poll against the Act. In this plebiscite approximately 2 out of every 3 doctors in a 77% poll disapprove of the Act, notwithstanding the concessions Mr. Bevan has made. The figures show that some of those who disapprove of the Act are nevertheless prepared to enter the Service on July 5. In answer to Question B—the most important question of the three—12,799 medical men in England and Wales and Scotland are in favour of accepting service, and 13,891 are not in favour. The group which answered this question contains those directly affected by the Act—consultants and specialists, general practitioners, and whole-time voluntary hospital workers. There is an almost even division of opinions—48% willing to enter the Service and 52% unwilling. The number of general practitioners (principals and assistants) against accepting service is 9,588. Although there is an overall majority against accepting service, the majority does not include approximately 13,000 general practitioners. The majority the B.M.A. required if it was to continue to advise the profession not to enter the Service has, therefore, not been obtained. (Editorial, 8 May 1948, p 885. See also editorial by Gordon Macpherson, 3 January 1998, p 6.)

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