Birth of the National Health Service | The early history of the NHS

'Radio Doctor' calls for Public Debate on Health

Dr Hill explains the importance of allowing public debate about the health service.

BBC ARCHIVE
WRITTEN DOCUMENT 1943

[Page 1/3]

British Medical Association

[Graphics:Letterhead]

24th March, 1943.


Dear Miss Quig1ey,

The correspondence which followed the discussion on State Medicine was interesting, though not large. As my identity is no longer a closely guarded secret I have had a good number of communications, verbal and written, from doctors and laymen.

On the whole the discussion was thought, I gather, to be live and interesting, though a fairly general comment has been that it roamed over too large a field. The Listener critic I think put his finger on it when he said that there was a load on the deck as well as a cargo in the hold.

The suggestion has been made that if there were time available it would be useful to consider in separate discussions or talks the parts which make up the whole. Sample subjects are:

"Should the Voluntary Hospital be preserved?"
"Individual Doctor versus Team of Doctors - or Clinic versus Doctor's surgery."
"Should Private Practice Continue?"

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"Should Private Provision be made in Hospitals for the Upper Classes?"

"Should the local authority run a Complete Health service?"

"Government Department versus Corporate body (Ministry of Health versus .B.B.C.)." and so on.

Perhaps another way of approaching the same problem is this. It has now been publicly announced that the government is beginning consultations with the appropriate bodies representing voluntary hospitals, local authorities, doctors, T.U.C., with a view to the issue by the Government, probably in a few months' time, of a draft plan. That draft plan is likely to be published as a white paper at the time when it is submitted to the interests affected for their official views. In other words it will be issued to the public for public comment before in fact the Government makes its recommendations to Parliament. The white paper will be tentative but not final.

The B.B.C. might think that the public should be prepared for an enlightened discussion of the Government's tentative proposals beforehand. I am in the discussions between the Government and the voluntary hospitals and with the profession, and I know that certain difficult and important issues will be put up for discussion and no doubt controversy later this year. Indeed the Government wants to put forward a bill before the end of the year.

I think the Times was right in its leader last Friday that public discussion of the blue print of health services is no less important than discussion between Government and interested bodies or parties like the medical profession. is not this an occasion for public discussion of the problems known to be under examination between the dusty walls of the Ministry of Health?


Yours sincerely,

[handwritten signature of Charles Hill]

age 3/3

[Continued from previous page]

P.S. For the last two Wednesdays I have been dealing with the birth rate and this country's need for more children. These two talks provoked some most interesting letters, interesting in that they throw some light on the attitude of that section of the public which writes to the B.B.C. on children as angels or cannon fodder. When it has been gathered together I will send you the unselected correspondence, for I know it will interest you.

[handwritten - P.D.S. I mentioned a publication 'Mother & Child' a copy of which I enclose in case you've not seen it. Within 8 hours of the broadcast, 235 single appreciations for it, with 9d enclosed, had reached the C.C. for H.E. by post, from London only! How's that? 1d [handwriting unclear] for the pregnant only.

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Document Type | Letter

24 March 1943

Document version

Writtenin

1943

Synopsis

In this letter to J Quigley, a producer from the Radio Talks Department, Dr Charles Hill describes the reaction he has received to the programme 'State Organised Medicine', in which the idea of a nationalised health service was debated. He goes on to suggest that the BBC might consider it important to enable the public to take part in an 'enlightened debate' on the issues.

Did you know?

In this letter Dr Hill refers to the fact that his identity is no longer secret. For his wartime 'Kitchen Front' broadcasts his identity was hidden, as giving his name was thought to contravene guidelines on doctors advertising.

The programme discussed in this letter, 'State Organised Medicine' is available to hear as part of this collection.

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