Briatin: Social Reform

OCR How far did British Society change 1939-1975?

The Start of the NHS 

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  • Created by: SG
  • Created on: 07-06-12 20:34

The Beveridge Report 1942

The war identified that many people were poor & deprived. Liberal politician William Beveridge released a report in 1942 which he presented to parliament, identifying Britain needed to be changed & setting the government the task of doing so.

He identified the five 'giants on the road to reconstruction', which were: Want, Idleness, Disease, Ignorance & Squalor. He proposed a welfare state which would: provide economic security from the'Cradle to the Grave'; freedom with security & responsibility; improved pensions for all; free secondary education for all; and free National Health Service for all.

The post-war labour government supported the report but problems following WWII still existed, paticularly regarding housing conditions.

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The Welfare State

  • 1944 Education Act: School leaving age becomes 15 & children are to take an 11+ test to determine whether they go to a grammer, secondary modern or technical school
  • 1945 Family Allowances act: 5 shillings per week for each child in the family
  • 1945 National Insuarance Act: unemployment pay for 6 moths & unlimited sick pay
  • 1946 National Insuarance- Industrial Industries Act: Benefits for those injured at work
  • 1946 National health Service Act: promised free healthcare
  • 1946 New Towns act: authorised the building of new towns
  • 1947 Town & Country Planning Act: set a target for building new council houses & defined land that had to be kept rural
  • 1948 National Assistance Act: benefits for anyone in need
  • 1948 Children's Act: Local Authorities are forced to set up services to protect children & give good housing 
  • 1948 National Health Service act: The NHS actually begins


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Labour health minister Aneurin 'Nye' Bevan launched the NHS on 5th July 1948. For the first time healthcare professionals came together. The NHS was based on 3 core principles: that it meets the needs of everyone, it is free at the point of delivery & it is based on clinical need.

The idea was revolutionary. Previously, hospitals were managed locally, people had to pay for healthcare or it was given eratically by charity, people believed there was a better way of doing things & WWII had shown there needed to be changes. There had been opposition, but it was overcome.

Women's lives changed, they had free good quality maternity carewhich saved lives & reduced complications. There was a dramatic fall in infant mortality, & children received medical inspections & vacinations benefiting even the poorest. Millions of prescriptions were given monthly, the no. of doctors doubled, spectacular operations performed, & lives improved.

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