The National Health Service (NHS) was conceived as part of a radical public sector health and welfare package following the Second World War. It has undergone many reforms since then, but essentially remains a 'cradle to grave' service, free to all, centrally controlled and funded via general taxation. Its basic tenets are altruistic egalitarianism and involve guaranteed state provision of ' hea l th ' as the citizen's right. Any attempts to shift the duty of responsibility for health over the years have been highly politically charged and 'protection of our NHS' remains a central political issue at recurrent government elections (Salter, 1998).