25th September 1953. NHS Under Threat.
Operant Conditioning is defined as where ordinary decent people through whatever forces, are found to adopt attitudes which they would normally consider abhorrent, but are thought necessary to survive in an environment under threat.
This was seen particularly in the new millennium as the NHS came under increasing threat, as supply with a given finance, couldn’t meet growing demand.(1)
The problem was seen in scandals at many hospitals including The Mid-Staffs Hospital, Stafford, where countless patients were deemed to have died owing to neglect, as they came a poor second to a focus on targets which couldn’t be met.
Right from its inception in 1948 the NHS saw demand start to exceed supply as Tunbridge, doctor’s receptionist Mary Dowding noted when she saw a queue down the street of people eagerly awaiting their free medicines. (Ref Below).
By Today in 1953 a Daily Mirror article under the heading of, ‘Your Doctor and You’, was quoting that, ‘a half of the doctors were unable to do their job properly owing to overwork, and too many patients, and of 129 doctors, 52 were found to be good, 58 adequate and 12 inadequate’.
It was different before 1948 as people had no automatic access to either hospital or a doctor, though workers under National Insurance could claim some treatment, which didn’t apply to wives and children.
Though there were some charity and voluntary hospitals, these were patchily distributed and in most cases one had to pay up-front and be reimbursed later. Many relied on the charity of doctors or simply applied the pharmacopoeia of home remedies, thus the great rise of the likes of Beecham’s Pills and the many quack remedies.
Not until the 1920 Dawes Report and the 1926 Royal Commission on National Health Insurance, was the notion of a public funded health service discussed.
And not until World War II with its immense casualties and a realisation of the poor health of the nation was the public conscience stirred with the 1942 Beveridge Report.
Thus despite much Tory opposition, the Labour Party in power from 1945, under Clem Attlee, along with the driving force of Aneurin Bevan, both of whom had seen poverty at first hand, pushed for the 1948 legislation.
(1) Demand from more treatable disease and growing ageing population.
bbc.co.uk/NHS at 50/Pic/ Personal account by Mary Dowding of Tunbridge, Kent.1.7.1996.
Daily Mirror. Article 25.9.1953.