Physician issues monetarism health warning

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

BRITAIN needs to return to the values of the welfare state and pursue them with more determination, Sir Douglas Black, author of the 1980 Black report on poverty and health, said yesterday.

Sir Douglas, a former Government chief scientist and past president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the return of monetarism 'has again created evils that should have been relegated to history. We have homelessness and massive unemployment, potent causes of illness, and we have a health service which is being covertly denationalised . . . by the unnecessary creation of an artificial internal market.'

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Sir Douglas said that as a medical student he saw children going barefoot in Dundee.

After the Second World War, the welfare state improved matters considerably, he said, but Britain was now seeing a resurgence of evils that should be part of history while, in the United States, a mere eight years of Reaganomics had seen tuberculosis re-established as a health hazard on New York streets.

In Britain, Sir Douglas said, 'I am both sad and angry to see the attempted destruction of a system of health care which was as comprehensive as any in the world, and at a lower cost than any other comparable system'. If Britain was serious about reducing death and illness due to social deprivation, 'we must return to the values of the welfare state and pursue them with greater determination'.

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