People's History of the NHS


Frontispiece for The dispensary, by Sir Samuel Garth, published in 1699

In 1687 the Royal College of Physicians announced that its members would give free treatment to paupers and proposed the building of a public dispensary based at the College, where the poor could receive free medicines. This angered the Royal Society of Apothecaries who were angered by what they saw as a direct threat to their livelihood, and there was also fierce opposition amongst physicians. Despite these ongoing disagreements, in 1696, the RCP committee on medicines again proposed the establishment of the dispensary and by the end of the year 52 College members had subscribed £10 each to support the project.
The dispensary was the first example in England of free medical advice and treatment being given to members of the public. It was only on a small scale and ended in 1724, but is an example of an attempt to make medicine free to patients before the creation of the NHS in 1948.

Courtesy, Royal College of Physicians

Twitter Feed

The information is provided by us and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. We only capture and store personal information with the prior consent of users. Any personal information collected as part of the user registration process or the submission of material (including, but not limited to, name, address, e-mail address) will be stored securely, and accessible only to members of the Cultural History of the NHS project team. We will not sell, license or trade your personal information to others. We do not provide your personal information to direct marketing companies or other such organizations. These opinions do not necessarily represent those of Warwick University or the Wellcome Trust.

This site would like to use cookies to track your usage of the site