The National Health Service (NHS) was founded in 1946 and is responsible for the public healthcare sector of the UK. Prior to its development healthcare was for the wealthy only unless you were able to obtain free treatment through charity or teaching hospitals. In 1911 David Lloyd George introduced the National Insurance Act in which a small amount was deducted from an employees wage and in return they were entitled to free healthcare, however this scheme only applied to those in employment.
After the Second World War there was considerable effort to launch a public healthcare system in which services were provided free at the point of use, services were financed from central taxation and everyone was eligible for care. A basic tripartite system was formed splitting the service into hospital services, primary care (GP’s) and Community Services. By 1974 concerns had grown that by separating the three primary areas of care was causing problems so reorganization was made to support all three under their local authority. The Thatcher years saw a restructuring of the management system and in 1990 the National Health Service and Community Care Act was passed to set up independent Trusts that managed hospital care.
Continued reform has occurred since this time during the Blair government including the formation of NHS Direct all aimed at improving healthcare standards and lowering costs and waiting times.