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Disease and Ignorance

Wednesday 15 November 2017, 6.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor Karen Bloor, Department of Health Sciences and Dr Chris Renwick, Department of History

Five Giants: Then and now

75 years after publication of the Beveridge Report - can the welfare state survive?


Professor Karen Bloor, Department of Health Sciences

Beveridge believed in ‘a national health service for prevention and comprehensive treatment available to all members of the community’ and ‘without a charge at any point’. Implementation of this fell to Labour, and it caused perhaps more controversy than any other aspect of the post war Welfare State reforms. The NHS was the first Western health system to offer free medical care to the whole population, based not on an insurance principle but on national service provision and universal entitlement. In this lecture, Professor Bloor will explore how the ideals were implemented and how values, challenges and systems have changed (or not changed) over time.

Speaker biography: Karen Bloor is Professor of Health Economics and Policy, and the University's Research Champion for Health and Wellbeing. She has worked at the University of York for over 25 years, focusing particularly on the application of economics to health policy. Her research covers a range of subjects relating to the financing and delivery of healthcare, including analysis of medical labour markets, medical practice variations, pharmaceutical markets and various aspects of healthcare reform. 


Dr Chris Renwick, Department of History

In his famous report of 1942, William Beveridge urged the British government to make ignorance one of the 'five giant evils' to be slain after the war. By 1945, there was a commitment to raising the school leaving age and establishing a new educational system - one with grammar schools as the proposed escalator system for young and able people. The role of education in achieving Beveridge's ambitions was always complex, though. Indeed, the wartime Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kingsley Wood, said he'd rather "give money for education than throw it down the sink" with Beveridge's report. In this sense, and as I'll argue in this talk, the great achievement of keeping young people in education, employment, or training between the ages of 16 and 18 and university enrolment at levels unimaginable 75 years ago is not necessarily evidence we have done what Beveridge suggested we should. Beveridge's vision of a 'comprehensive policy of social progress' involved tackling what we know about each other, as much as what we know about the world around us. On this issue, as recent reforms to the welfare state have shown, we still have much to do. 

Speaker biography: Chris Renwick is senior lecturer in modern history at the University of York. He is the author of Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State, which was published by Allen Lane in September 2017

Other events in this series include:

Location: Ron Cooke Hub auditorium, Campus East

Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book below.

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