Nye Bevan on Conservative Plans to Destroy the NHS

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Nye Bevan pic

Bevan was also aware that the Tories desperately wanted to stop the creation of the welfare state. This was particularly true of Churchill, who bitterly hated the idea of the proles getting free medicine, loudly denouncing the new welfare state and NHS as a ‘A Gestapo for England’. This shows that once the War was over, Churchill was basically another hard-right Tory louse and the returning servicemen were quite right to kick him out.

At one point in its creation, the amount spent on the new NHS exceeded the initial estimates. Churchill seized on this to try and discredit the whole scheme. Bevan says of this in In Place of Fear

The first few Estimates for the Health Service seemed to justify the critics. Expenditure exceeded the Estimates by large amounts, and Mr Churchill with his usual lack of restraint plunged into the attack. In this he showed less insight…

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3 thoughts on “Nye Bevan on Conservative Plans to Destroy the NHS

  1. Utter total and complete BS. The NHS & Welfare State were wartime coalition policies agreed across parties. After the Beveridge Report was published in December 1942, Winston Churchill declared in a national radio broadcast on 21 March 1943 “We must establish on broad and solid foundations a national health service.” and in which he also coined the phrase “from the cradle to the grave”. Minister of Health Conservative Henry Willink published his white paper ‘A National Health Service’ on 26 March 1944 in which can be found the things the public value re the NHS.

    Your Churchill ‘quote’ is a silly fake. Once the NHS was established it greatly exceeded its estimates as nobody had foreseen the latent demand.


    • While it is true that in 1943 he did make that remark, was he in fact referring to the Nation Health Service that was formed and if he was, did he agree with how it was funded has in 1951 he would appear to be stating that there should be less Government funding not more, as stated in richardlangworth.com. Now the the extract that was in the post is stated to come from ‘In Place of Fear’ and I will need to look further into this.

      While there was consensus that there should be a National system there were many disagreements on how this should be from politicians, medical professionals and the cabinet as stated in the BBC article The NHS – an easy birth?. As the then National Health Service was costing more than expected, much as today, there were again many disagreements. So could Churchill’s views also not have changed.


      • As stated above the things the public value re the NHS are to be found in Henry Willink’s 1944 white paper ‘A National health Service’ http://www.sochealth.co.uk/national-health-service/the-sma-and-the-foundation-of-the-national-health-service-dr-leslie-hilliard-1980/a-national-health-service/
        Churchill’s broadcast is at http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1943/1943-03-21a.html
        The argument in 1946 was not over what the health service should provide, but about ownership and management of hospitals. Pre-NHS the majority of hospitals in England and Wales were local government owned and run and the remainder voluntary (charitable). Willink’s plan had been to bring together groups of councils to provide the scale to ensure that a full range of services were available throughout the country. In October 1945 Bevan decided to nationalise all hospitals are run everything centrally. This was opposed in cabinet by Herbert Morrison, former leader of the London County Council – the largest pre-NHS health care provider, and in Parliament by the Conservatives. By 1954 Bevan had realised his mistake and wrote and article in the Municipal Journal calling for local councils to be amalgamated to make them large enough to manage a full range of hospital services


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