Our NHS: A History of Britain's Best Loved Institution

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Our NHS: A History of Britain's Best Loved Institution

Our NHS: A History of Britain's Best Loved Institution

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An engaging, inclusive history of the NHS, exploring its surprising survival-and the people who have kept it running In recent decades, a wave of appreciation for the NHS has swept across the UK. Unfortunately we cannot offer a refund on custom prints unless they are faulty or we have made a mistake. The Tories were notionally on board for some kind of nationwide healthcare expansion, but not on the scale or in the form that Nye Bevan, health secretary in Britain’s postwar Labour government, brought to the Commons.

On the other hand, as many public health experts observed, the disproportionate mortality rates from Covid-19 among working-class communities and people from ethnic and racial minority backgrounds underlined the longer-term health inequalities in Britain. By highlighting these dynamics, I build on insights from prior historical scholarship (often informed by social science) that explained the resilience of welfare states through structural factors like the advantages of pooling risks or the power of ‘path dependence’ in social policy. We publish history, politics, current affairs, art, architecture, biography and pretty much everything else. Rishi Sunak, knowing how that charge resonates with voters, will swear allegiance to state-run, collectivised healthcare although it is an affront to many of his party’s sacred beliefs. He trained in both the UK and the USA, gaining a doctorate in History from New York University (NYU) in 2021.A rising tide of liberalising capitalism has sluiced the NHS but somehow not dissolved its collectivist foundations. Fluidly written, richly detailed and frequently surprising, Our NHS is the portrait of a social democratic institution that withstood the assaults of neoliberalism, battle-scarred and transformed but still very much alive.

Seaton also charts an interesting grey zone where patriotic enthusiasm for a unique, beloved institution shades into “welfare nationalism” and resentment of foreigners gaining unearned access to a precious, limited resource. He traces how the service has changed and adapted, bringing together the experiences of patients, staff from Britain and abroad, and the service's wider supporters and opponents. Yale University Press seemed the perfect fit in this regard, allowing for ample space for both the things that academics tend to care about (references and scholarly debates) and the things that the general public prioritise (accessible prose and human stories). Against the Sacred Cow': NHS Opposition and the Fellowship for Freedom in Medicine', Twentieth Century British History 26, no. I could gain some critical distance from the two predominant narratives about the service that circulated in the media and in everyday conversation: that it was a natural part of what made Britain special and/or that it stood on the precipice of collapse.

On one hand, the service had survived and it was able to perform functions such as distributing vaccines with a high degree of public trust. How Britain fell in love with socialised medicine, and whether the relationship can endure, is the subject of two books published to coincide with the service’s 75th birthday. The wide lens and varied material that underpins the book allowed me to answer two central questions. In his even-handed analysis, Seaton argues that what is remarkable about the NHS is that it has, to all intents and purposes, survived ‘the tsunami of attempts to marketise’ it. He traces how the service has changed and adapted, bringing together the experiences of patients, staff from Britain and abroad, and the service’s wider supporters and opponents.

Nonetheless, the NHS also received an enormous amount of celebration – including, a service in Westminster Abbey, an NHS ‘Big Tea’ occurring in different parts of the U. In Our NHS, Andrew Seaton explores how the National Health Service, a great achievement for Aneurin Bevan and the left, became a national institution commanding widespread support. Britain’s National Health Service remains a cultural icon—a symbol of excellent, egalitarian care since its founding more than seven decades ago.From Clement Attlee to ‘Clap for Carers,’ this is a nuanced account of both the evolution of the NHS and the myth-making that came with it, as Seaton navigates the history of what is at once ‘Britain’s best-loved institution’ and a service perpetually seen to be in crisis. Seaton emphasizes the resilience of the NHS—perpetually “in crisis” and yet perennially enduring—as well as the political values it embodies and the work of those who have tirelessly kept it afloat.

But idolatry doesn’t stop growing numbers of people turning to the private sector when they can’t get GP appointments or when the wait for operations is too long to bear. Our NHSinsists that neither the institution’s acclaim nor its survival were automatic or pre-ordained. I hope that my small contribution to telling the service’s history might provide us with another perspective when we think about its future. One of the things that kept me motivated to finish writing the book lay in how the service’s history allowed me to talk about lots of different things, from shifting meanings of class and gender, to Britain’s experience of Commonwealth immigration, to architectural aesthetics or debates in medical economics. Both books describe party political wrangling without overt partisanship, although Seaton’s leftward tilt becomes increasingly clear in later chapters.

As the government’s national archive for England, Wales and the United Kingdom, The National Archives hold over 1,000 years of the nation’s records for everyone to discover and use. It is explicit in his conclusion – that the tenacity of the NHS in fending off marketisation might serve as a model for the resurgence of egalitarian, social democratic politics in Britain. She doesn’t let her admiration for the NHS as both a political achievement and a healthcare provider impede the exposition of its flaws. Andrew's first book, Our NHS: A History of Britain's Best-Loved Institution (Yale University Press 2023) is an expansive history of a world-famous universal health care system.

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