Intended for healthcare professionals


Julian Tudor Hart: visionary general practitioner who introduced the concept of the “inverse care law”

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 11 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3052
  1. Penny Warren
  1. London
  1. penny.warren{at}
Credit: Ben Tudor Hart

In 1971 a GP from a Welsh mining village submitted a paper to the Lancet. More than 45 years later doctors, researchers, and politicians still quote Julian Tudor Hart’s “inverse care law.”1

It states: “The availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the need for it in the population served. This inverse care law operates more completely where medical care is most exposed to market forces, and less so where such exposure is reduced.”

It’s fitting that Tudor Hart, a fierce critic of market forces in medicine, should die aged 91 on the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which he defended so passionately.

Radical beginnings

Tudor Hart was born in London in 1927 into a communist medical family. He once described home as something of a “transit camp for antifascist refugees” and said that his father gave him works of Marx to read at school.

In 1940, aged 13, he and his sisters took refuge in Canada from the second world war with their grandfather, the artist …

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