Our feet set on a new path entirely

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7150.1 (Published 04 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1

To the transformation of primary care and partnership with patients

  1. Julian Tudor Hart, Retired general practitioner.
  1. Gelli Deg, Penmaen, Swansea SA3 2HH

    NHS's 50th anniversary pp 37-71

    For doctors there are comforting accounts of the birth of the National Health Service, wise professionals defending their own child against meddling politicians.1 But, however you look, BMA leaders, with massive support from general practitioners, stridently opposed participation until three months before the appointed day, and then came grudgingly. An overwhelming majority of patients wanted it, but doctors thought they knew their patients' best interests—as they always did in those days.

    In parliament on 9 February 1948 Nye Bevan grieved “that this great Act, to which every party has made its contribution, in which every section of the community is vitally interested, should have so stormy a birth. I should have thought, and we all hoped, that [the doctors] would have realised that we are setting their feet on a new path entirely, that we ought to take pride in the fact that, despite our financial and economic anxieties, we are still able to do the most civilized thing in the world—put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration.” Fifteen years later Lord Platt, president of the Royal College of Physicians, agreed: “The methods of the BMA …

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