Ideas about health have changed in two main ways: firstly, the accessibility of services and their funding; and secondly, the methods of providing healthcare. Between the years of 1945 and 1951, a labour government established an extensive health and welfare system. After passing the National Health Service Act in 1946, the healthcare system went into affect in 1948. The Act said that all inhabitants had the right to access free healthcare. Before this change most people were unable to access healthcare because they couldn’t afford it.
However, the new system became too expensive for the government, so to resolve this they brought in charges for things like prescriptions, dentures and glasses. Tax revenue pays for most of the costs and the rest comes from national insurance, paid by employees and employers. Prices for items such as prescriptions and glasses have risen, but not everyone has to pay for them. Groups of people such as children, pregnant women, the unemployed, those over 60 and those disabled have access to free prescriptions.
Another act, the NHS and community care Act in 1990, tried to make health care better and less expensive by encouraging competition. To introduce this idea they allowed other hospitals to become trusts, this means they have control over the finance given by the government instead of local authorities. Local authorities (responsible for providing health care) ‘buy’ health care for their patients from these trusts. Methods of providing health care have changed in many ways. One example is the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics used to be used to cure everything, even the slightest cough or cold.
Antibiotics only take affect against bacteria; they don’t work on viruses (colds etc). Because of the constant use of the antibiotics, bacteria became ‘antibiotic resistant’, this means they have adapted and found ways to survive the affects of antibiotics. This is a serious consequence because antibiotics become less effective at fighting infections. The government became concerned about this new fact, so to resolve this they reduced the amount of antibiotics given out, and produced public awareness on antibiotic resistance.
They concentrated on four main areas of the topic. These include, stopping prescriptions for viruses (colds, coughs etc. ), limiting prescriptions for conditions such as uncomplicated cystitis in fit women, and limiting prescriptions over the telephone. To educate the public on antibiotic resistance the introduced advertisements, such as leaflets and posters to explain that antibiotics should only be used when really needed, for example for kidney infections, pneumonia, and meningitis etc. therefore antibiotics are more likely to work.
Also they had to explain that antibiotics don’t cure viruses. Another example of how methods have changed is in baby care. Mothers used to be told to lay their babies on their stomachs in the cot; this was to avoid the babies from choking on sick in their sleep. But, research has shown that 60% more babies who lay on their stomachs than backs, died from cot death. This is probably because of the heat they create from having their faces on the mattress. Mothers are now advised to lay their babies on their backs for more positive results.