Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 November 2008
The National Health Service (NHS) was founded in 1948 to replace an inefficient, ill-coordinated and financially unstable health care system and to reduce the barriers to the consumption of health care. In this article, it is argued that the geographic and social class equity objectives of the NHS have been poorly specified and that attempts to achieve them through government policy have been inadequate. The renewed interest in inequalities in health and health care and the problems of formulating and implementing policies aimed at reducing inequalities are discussed in general terms in section 1. Section 2 examines the inequalities of health care provision that were inherited in 1948, the development of policies to mitigate the problem and the current situation. Alternative demand and supply side policies to reduce inequalities in health and health care are presented in section 3. A summary of the proceeding arguments is set out in section 4.
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