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…opposed to the hedonism of capitalist society

July 4, 2008

On this day sixty years ago Sylvia Beckingham was admitted to hospital for treatment. She was the first patient of the newly created National Health Service (NHS) in Britain, probably the greatest achievement of the post war Labour Government. It would not have been achieved without the drive and passion of one of the greatest welsh politicians of all time Aneurin Bevan. The heading of this blog is from his book In place of Fear.

He was former miner and man of ethical stature as can be seen from the principles for the NHS which he laid out at its foundation:

  1. Health should be free at the point of use
  2. Available to everyone who needed it
  3. Paid for out of general taxation
  4. It should be used responsibly

It seems to me that the provision of health and education to all citizens regardless of wealth and status is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for a society to call itself civilised. The economic benefit is also clear. The annual cost per head, per lifetime of the NHS was £200, todate it has risen to £1,700. To put that figure in perspective, when I quoted it to Larry Prusak earlier this week his comment was “that is what I pay a month for insurance”

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