Many months ago I recorded a BBC documentary called “Health before the NHS”. Not having much of a stomach for statist propaganda I had been putting off watching it. The other night I finally got round to doing so.
Now, you will be shocked (shocked I tell you!) to hear, that the conclusion they reached was that the creation of the NHS was a very wonderful thing indeed. The problem was that if you actually looked at the evidence they presented – without making allowances for cherry picking – you’d have to reach precisely the opposite conclusion. This is what the BBC thought counted as evidence:
- There have always been state hospitals.
- They have always been awful. Dirty, miserable, useless.
- Before 1900 most operations were carried out at home
- Almost all developments in medicine in the first half of the 20th Century were pioneered by voluntary hospitals (ie private hospitals).
- It was voluntary hospitals that pioneered the idea that you might have an operation in a hospital and not at home.
- Voluntary hospitals were able to survive on charity until taxation in the 1920s got so high that this became increasingly difficult.
Something they did not cover was the introduction of a state general practitioner service in 1912. This was the real beginning of the NHS. At the time, I assume, no one in government thought voluntary hospitals particularly important, so they were ignored and, of course, they went on to transform healthcare. It really is amazing what a little freedom can do. It was only in 1948 that the government realised its “mistake” and nationalised the voluntary hospitals as well.
The BBC even opined that the NHS “integrated” healthcare (whatever that might mean) and managed to give the impression that it brought forth infinite resources for its activities. You have to admire their chutzpah.