28 March 2018, The Tablet

The NHS was one of those national flags around which my generation rallied


On 5 July this year we shall be celebrating the seventieth birthday of the National Health Service. Of all the organisations the British state has created, the NHS comes closest to the institutionalisation of altruism – with its pooling of funds and risks in such a way as to ensure that it is available to all who need it, free at the point of delivery.

As the historian Peter Calvocoressi wrote in The British Experience 1945-75, on the thirtieth anniversary of the NHS, in 1978: “For its customers it was a godsend, perhaps the most beneficial reform ever enacted in England, given that it relieved so many not merely of pain but also of the awful plight of having to watch the suffering and death of a spouse or a child for lack of enough money to do anything about it.”

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