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Rationing health care

Aneurin Bevan's National Health Service Bill received the Royal Assent 50 years ago in November. The NHS has been under pressure to reconcile supply and demand ever since. As the demand for health care grows, Bill New examines the rationing dilemmas

By Bill New   November 1996

Health care rationing used to conjure up images of wartime austerity, of bureaucrats meddling in matters of medicine and children being denied life-saving treatment. It was not, until recently, associated with the NHS. That is starting to change. Examples of people being denied treatment regularly appear in the press. A man can no longer receive physiotherapy because he is too old; another man is denied a heart operation because he refuses to stop smoking; a couple in one part of a town receives fertility treatment while another couple in another area does not.

Rationing has come as a surprise to…

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