People's History of the NHS

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Party Politics and the NHS

Since its inception, political parties of all stripes have taken credit for the successes and apportioned blame for the failures of the National Health Service. In times of austerity – that is, when perceived threats to the NHS are highest and most keenly felt by voters already under economic pressure -- such support has often been at the heart of election campaigns. The images in this gallery set the context and capture moments when healthcare and the NHS were, or were expected to be, political dynamite in national election campaigns, from the first post-war elections to the present day. While the specific politics of health change with each election, it is easy to observe two key trends which have their roots in the pre-NHS decades of the twentieth century: while Labour consistently claims the NHS as proof of its egalitarian and compassionate commitments, the Conservatives are equally consistent in claiming to safeguard the National Health Service from (Labour) economic profligacy and inefficiency.

Find out more from our encyclopaedia entry on party political manifestos.

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