chapter  1
The evolution of public health policy
An anglocentric view of the last fifty years
ByDavid Blane, Eric Brunner, Richard Wilkinson
Pages 18

It is understandable, given this background, that the provision of universally available medical care was seen as a vital part of policy for improving health standards throughout society. In many countries this development coincided with a political enthusiasm for social justice which had its roots in wartime experience and the desire not to return to prewar conditions. In Britain the National Health Service was established to provide free medical care for all, financed by central government revenues. Its founders expected that the population would become healthier as a result. They anticipated an early surge in demand, due to the backlog of untreated disease. Once it had been treated, however, they predicted a steady decline in the demand for medical care. Most commentators also assumed that social inequalities in health would be steadily eroded by this combination of medical science and egalitarian health care reform.