Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The National Health: a Radical Perspective

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 08 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e829
  1. Robin Walsh, second year medical student, University of Sheffield
  1. RWalsh1{at}

The NHS faces misguided reorganisation, creeping privatisation, cuts, increased waiting lists, and stagnant wages. Although they are eerily familiar, these are not just today’s problems, but also those of 1988, when the east end London general practitioner and left wing activist David Widgery wrote his book The National Health.

The book was published on the 40th anniversary of the inception of the health service and was a polemical intervention against the penny pinching cuts of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. It makes a powerful case for universal healthcare. Widgery writes movingly of being an “Atlee child,” nursed through childhood polio by the NHS, and he is keen to defend that provision.

Widgery gives a historical …

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