1848 Public Health Act

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  • 1848 Public Health Act
    • Factors
      • Cholera outbreaks
        • 1832 and 1849 in London, Liverpool and other industrial cities
        • Led to lots of deaths of workers
      • Chadwick's Report in 1842
        • Brought together evidence from doctors - scientific basis for report
          • Wide breadth of evidence and a bestseller
        • Chadwick aware of the cost of illness on the poor rate
          • If wage earner became ill, poor relief could be claimed so it was in interest to avoid this
        • Called for clean water supplies, better drainage, cheaper, better ventilation, earthenware pipes with water flowing through to flush out sewage
          • Recognised findings may upset ratepayers
        • Brought about reports such as 1843 Burials Report, 1844 Buccleuch report
        • Led people to consider the effects of industrialisation and population growth
      • Poor living conditions
        • Lived in back-to-back houses
        • Many living in one house - disease spread
        • Medical care not affordable
        • Water supplies unsanitary
        • Lack of understanding about the spread of germs
      • Other condition reforms
        • Factory Acts of 1833, 1847 etc improved working conditions
          • Pressure from 10 hour movement - "Yorkshire Slavery"
        • Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 put in place elected bodies to take over local utilities (water, sewage etc) if they wanted.
        • Attitude for reform of conditions
      • Increased public agitation
        • Campaigns by the Health of Towns Association following cholera outbreaks
        • Fear of revolution from 1789
      • 1845 Friedrich Engels' report "The Condition of the Working Class in England"
        • Closer to the time of the 1848 act's passage
        • Englels had lived in Manchester and experienced difficult conditions
    • Provisions
      • Strengths
        • Central board of health established
        • Corporate boroughs took responsibility for drainage, water supplies etc
        • Non-corporate towns could set up local boards of health
        • Finance for improvements to be taken from rates
        • Local health boards had to be set up where the death rate was above 23 in 1000
      • Weaknesses
        • London, Sootland and Ireland excluded from the act
        • 1854: Central board reduced to only 3 members with only advisory powers
        • Central board had few powers compared to local boards, removing the centralisation in public health
        • Central board had no money
        • Responsibility still optional and met with resistance
        • Public health not made a ministerial responsibility


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