Thatcher Proposes Major Shift in System of Free Health Care

From Associated Press

The government today proposed the biggest shake-up in Britain’s free health system since its inception, boosting private health insurance and allowing big hospitals to charge fees.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in a statement introducing a government policy document, called the plan the “most far-reaching reform of the National Health Service in its 40-year history.”

The opposition Labor Party, which introduced free health care after World War II, accused her Conservative government of setting out to wreck the system.

The plan was seen by some as an attempt to borrow from the American health system, with its emphasis on private care, without increasing spending.


“In other words, excellent care, eventually, for perhaps as much as three-tenths of the population, but deteriorating health care for the remainder,” said Dr. David Owen, a physician who leads the centrist Social Democratic Party.

The service, used by 90% of the population, is popular with voters and Thatcher has held back from exposing it to her strategy of rolling back the frontiers of socialism.