Presented to the Labour Party Conference 1934

Health Services

Labour proposes to utilise medical discovery to the full in the service of the nation. The extension of the maternity and child welfare services, the strict public control of private nursing and maternity homes, the adequate care of children in the pre-school years, the large-scale development of open-air nursery schools, are all urgent matters. The disastrous “economies” in the School Medical Service should be ended, and increased provision made for the  treatment of ailments. The provision of school meals must be greatly developed.

Far more special schools and classes are needed for children with physical or mental defects. All health functions will be taken away from Poor Law control, and the hospital service must be greatly extended.

Labour’s general aim is to provide eventually domiciliary and institutional care to the community as a whole—a State Health Service evolving round a system of up-to-date clinics, with provision for specialist and other forms of treatment. Individual poverty must not be a barrier to the best that medical science can provide.

It would be a mistake, however, if comprehensive health provision were to be built up on the basis of National Health Insurance. What is needed is to take medical benefits entirely away from Health Insurance, and confine insurance to cash benefits only, on a higher scale than at present. The medical benefits (the panel system, “additional” benefits, etc.) would be provided through the Local Authorities. A service far superior to the existing panel system would be essential, and would also apply to non-insured persons and all dependants. That is the aim of Labour policy, and a Labour Government will make rapid progress towards its achievement.

There are, of course, other directions in which Labour will immediately press forward in health matters, notably in the welfare of the blind, of the deaf and dumb, and of the mentally deficient.

 

Only the section on health services is reproduced

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