Changes to the British healthcare system were significant during Margaret Thatcher’s time in office. One such change marked January 1988, where she announced a review of the current NHS system. The trigger for this was because a Birmingham’s children’s hospital was postponing heart operations due to lack of funds. So the general idea from now on was that Health authorities didn’t run hospitals any more but had to “purchase” care from hospitals. Then each hospital would become its own governing body and so had to compete with other hospitals to provide care. Thatcher legislated for the privatisation of public assets. This was called the “The National Health Service and Community Act of 1990”. So there was now an internal market for the NHS. She really encouraged free enterprise. New reforms were now in place. A market was developed for services where provider bodies and hospitals, entered into contractual relationships with the buyers of services. People were encouraged to use private healthcare and there were tax incentives for private healthcare insurance premiums.
Modern developments in the NHS today have used this NHS reform as set out in the late eighties by Thatcher. Her conservative government reform of 1990, despite a few setbacks, paved the way for the future generations of today and is the foundation on which current NHS directives are made.
Some outcomes from the 1983 general election manifesto include, quoted direct:
“By last year, there were 45,000 more nurses and midwives, and over 6,500 more doctors and dentists, working for the NHS than in 1978.” This increase in staff made it possible to now treat more patients in hospitals. A £1million program was spent on building new hospitals.
“We are asking health authorities to make the maximum possible savings by putting services like laundry, catering and hospital cleaning out to competitive tender.” This created a cut back on costs bourne by the health authorities themselves and created a competitive market system when outsourcing services required”.
“We welcome the growth in private health insurance in recent years.”. This was encouraged for non urgent operations and greatly cut down NHS costs.
She resigned nearly a quarter of a century ago, was Prime Minister of Great Britain for 11 years and a member of parliament for 31 years and her legacy still lives on.
The Rt Hon. The Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS
Photo source: Luke Macgregor/Reuters The Guardian
(A union flag flies at half-mast over the Houses of Parliament after the announcement of Lady Thatcher’s death).