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Doctor shortages in the valley town that inspired the NHS

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 22 August 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3600
  1. Jenny Sims, freelance journalist, Cardiff, UK
  1. jenny.sims08{at}

The recruitment crisis in Aneurin Bevan’s hometown and the surrounding south Wales area exemplifies the challenge faced across the country and rest of the UK. Jenny Sims reports from Tredegar

The birthplace of the NHS is generally acknowledged as Trafford General Hospital, Manchester, officially opened by Aneurin Bevan as Park Hospital on 5 July 1948. But 70 years on, it is still Bevan’s home town of Tredegar, southeast Wales, that can be regarded as where the service was conceived.

Bevan, then health minister, openly boasted that he was basing his ideas for the NHS on the Tredegar Medical Society, which provided free healthcare in the town for iron, coal, and other industry workers, who paid a halfpenny a week into a “sick fund” to run it. “All I am doing is extending to the entire population of Britain the benefits we had in Tredegar for a generation or more. We are going to Tredegar-ise you,” said Bevan, according to a quote etched on a plaque in the town.

That meant providing free services for all at the point of delivery, based on clinical need not ability to pay. But today, Tredegar, like many towns throughout the UK, is struggling to meet those needs and provide those services.

Major sustainability concerns

The population of around 14 000 is served by two general practices, one of which, the Tredegar Health Centre, was handed back to Aneurin Bevan University Health Board on 1 April because its two GPs want to retire.

A report to the local council in October 2017 described Tredegar as an area with “high levels …

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