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New Left Review I/3, May-June 1960

Sheila Lynd

2. The Health Service Revisited

the national health service has existed now for nearly 12 years, and already it is hard to remember what being ill was like before. It is almost impossible today to awaken the imagination of the post-war young to what a frightful, unforeseeable blow a serious or prolonged illness was to a family before the war, and they can hardly credit that the panel system covered only wage-earners of the lower income groups, and even then excluded wives and children. In those days no working class mother was ever free to call in a doctor to her children without asking herself, “Is it something serious, or would it be better to spend the money on oranges, extra milk, or coal for a bedroom fire?” followed by self-reproachful panic if the child got worse or others fell ill. In millions of families, a measles epidemic was a nightmare.

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Sheila Lynd, ‘The Health Service Revisited’, NLR I/3: £3

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