Looking For A Cure

TOM STODDART / GETTY IMAGES for TIME

DOING WELL: Doreen Kitchgener, 84, receives treatment in the much improved Bedford Hospital

Britain's Labour Party came to power in 1997 pledging to "save" the country's decrepit and over-stretched National Health Service. The once-vaunted system of taxpayer-funded health care for all, founded by the postwar Labour government in 1948, had degenerated into a chaotic, inefficient monolith as the burdens on it increased and its resources diminished. Then, in January 2000, a flu outbreak exposed exactly how sick the NHS really was. Thousands of flu victims jammed doctors' offices and hospital emergency rooms; routine operations like hip replacements and cataract removals had to be canceled to make beds available for the acutely ill. Newspapers groaned...

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