Payment and philanthropy in British healthcare, 1918–48

This book examines the payment systems operating in British hospitals before the National Health Service (NHS). An overview of the British situation is given, locating the hospitals within both the domestic social and political context, before taking a wider international view. The book sets up the city of Bristol as a case study to explore the operation and meaning of hospital payments on the ground. The foundation of Bristol's historic wealth, and consequent philanthropic dynamism, was trade. The historic prominence of philanthropic associations in Bristol was acknowledged in a Ministry of Health report on the city in the 1930s. The distinctions in payment served to reinforce the differential class relations at the core of philanthropy. The act of payment heightens and diminishes the significance of 1948 as a watershed in the history of British healthcare. The book places the hospitals firmly within the local networks of care, charity and public services, shaped by the economics and politics of a wealthy southern city. It reflects the distinction drawn between and separation of working-class and middle-class patients as a defining characteristic of the system that emerged over the early twentieth century. The rhetorical and political strategies adopted by advocates of private provision were based on the premise that middle-class patients needed to be brought in to a revised notion of the sick poor. The book examines why the voluntary sector and wider mixed economies of healthcare, welfare and public services should be so well developed in Bristol.

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