Bevan’s speech at East Glamorgan County Hospital 17 January 1948

This ceremony is taking place at a time when controversy is raging in the medical world concerning the merits of the new Health Act. The atmosphere is charged with partisan feeling. A little later on I shall certainly find it reassuring to make a statement in the hope of creating a better sense of proportion in the minds of those who will be responsible for making the Act a success. In the meantime, I would say this to the doctors. Do not allow yourselves to be too much influenced by the statements made by a few persons who claim to be speaking for the whole profession. Read with care, and as dispassionately as possible the statement that I have circulated the profession and which each doctor has already received. Do not allow your minds to be inflamed or your judgment to be distorted by slogans which are addressed to your emotions and not to your intelligence. Keep in mind that the emotions of the moment will pass, but that the obligations to provide an efficient health service for the British people will be permanent.

The Health Act will start on 5th July. That is the wish of Parliament, and Parliament, after all, is still the supreme authority in Britain. The new health service can be launched smoothly and harmoniously in the best interests of the people whom it will have to serve, or it can be launched stormily, surrounded by prejudice, poisoned by misrepresentations, and fragmented by partisan passion. The responsibility for deciding between these two rests largely with the profession. Parliament has spoken; the country now awaits and expects the cooperation of the medical world.

Mr. Bevan added that that the Welsh Regional Hospital Board was already at work on the preliminaries to taking over the administration of the hospital service in Wales. There would be wider opportunity without the loosening of local ties. Transfer of the premises of the hospital to the ownership of the nation, and transfer of administration to new hands, did not mean that Glamorgan was losing its new hospital to Whitehall, or even to Cardiff. No one was going to attempt to run the hospitals by distant control regardless of the needs and the views of those whom they served. In the new service there would certainly be no less room than in the past for local responsibility and local interest. There would be just as much need for men of goodwill to come forward and give voluntary service to their neighbours in the field of hospital management.

Source: The Times, 19 January 1948