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It can be a question of viewpoint: some of our American cousins believe a state-run health-care system will lead to us all being murdered in our beds and our goods being delivered to Satan; we, however, look on the NHS as a national treasure, and woe betide any politician who suggests getting rid of it.
The practicality of the thing, i.e. having healthcare free at the point of issue, provided according to need rather than the ability to pay, is also its philosophical strength: this is a shared service. It may cost every UK citizen about £2000 each annually, but boy are we glad of it when we’re sick. It may be inefficient, and we can wonder if it really needs to be so vast (currently with 1.3 million employees). We grumble at its faults. But we wouldn’t be without it.
Our love for the NHS may also have something to do with its origins. During WWII Arthur Greenwood, whose cabinet role included post-war reconstruction, commissioned a report by economist William Beveridge on social reform, out of which came the very firm concept of a national health service. It was then in a way a prize for victory in that terrible conflict, a reward for national sacrifice.
Driven through by Aneurin Bevan , the NHS became a reality on July 5 1948 , but only after he bought a medical profession reluctant to cooperate: in his famous phrase he stuffed their mouths with gold, a tactic employed again with less skill by New Labour in its confused if well-intentioned reforms. No longer would sick children go without medicine here; operations carried out on kitchen tables because hospitals were too expensive became just memories. And we haven’t yet all been murdered in our beds and our goods consigned to the dark one.

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