The Formation of the National Health Service

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The purpose of this essay is to introduce the history of the National Health Service (NHS) and how its formation derived from the early 1600s. It will analyse two current political issues that occur within the NHS, the postcode lottery and the reformation of the NHS, examining the positive and negative effects they have had. It will also discuss implications of regulations within professional practice and how they account for quality of care.

Initially set up in 1601, the Poor Law Act was introduced by the government in an attempt to provide shelter and food for those most in need, in exchange for hard labour, otherwise known as workhouses; “a poorhouse where able-bodied poor are compelled to labor” (, 2014). The poor who were unable to work were cared for by a parish. The law offered relief to people who were unable to work, mainly assisting the elderly or helpless. The Poor Law Act created the framework for poor relief in England that was to last until the next act was introduced.

It was not until 1834 that another scheme was established, named the Poor Law Amendment Act with the similar aims and objectives. They established a Poor Law Commission to oversee the national operation of the system and parishes were put into Poor Law Unions so that relief could be provided more easily. In 1905 the Liberal government was voted in, when they began to devise laws which would benefit health care systems. Through 1905-1908 was considered the biggest stage of progression towards forming the National Healthcare System. Although the Royal Commission began to amend the Poor Law Act (1834), further advances and progression was interrupted due to the First World War (1914-1918).

The Beveridge Report (1942) was the main point o...

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NHS Support Federation. (2012). Less fair: postcode lottery. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 29 April 2014].

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