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NHS: Don’t forget the architect

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Much has been said and celebrated about the 70th anniversary of our National Health Service and as a beneficiary in recent years I can only applaud it and thank those who work in it and who do us proud.

It is, therefore, a shameful oversight by the media and others that the architect of the NHS and the Welfare State, William Beveridge, is never mentioned.

In 1941, the coalition government commissioned a report into the ways that Britain should be rebuilt after World War II. William Beveridge, who had advised the government on a plan for delivering pensions and National Insurance during the First World War, was an obvious choice to take charge.

He published his report in 1942 and recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five ‘Giant Evils’ of “Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness”.

In 1945, the Labour Party came to power and the Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced he would introduce the welfare state as outlined in William Beveridge’s Report.

This included the establishment of the National Health Service with free medical treatment for all. A national system of benefits was also introduced to provide ‘social security’ so that the population would be protected from “the cradle to the grave”.

In 1946, Beveridge was made a peer and became leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords. He died on March 16, 1963.

In my gratitude to our NHS, I include William Beveridge.

Alan Thompson

Newbiggin by the Sea