Medicine: Patient Improves

When Britain's Labor government began its vast tax-supported National Health Service in July 1948, doctors in the U.S. as well as many in Britain were quick to predict a rapid decline in British medical standards, and worse yet, the end of the traditional relationship between a patient and the doctor of his choice. In its bloated, red-tape-swaddled infancy, N.H.S. seemed set to fulfill the prediction.

A program encouraging 42 million Britons to seek cheap medical advice and free prescriptions for everything from sore feet to falling hair all but swamped Britain's 20,000 general practitioners, strained the bedside manner, quickened the leisurely house...

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