Evidence for better health care
  • The history of NHS reform

    This interactive timeline brings 70 years of reform to the National Health Service to life, charting the evolution of this public institution from its inception in the post-war years through to the present day.

    We welcome your feedback – email us at: timeline@nuffieldtrust.org.uk.

    Using the timeline: hover over the arrows on the right/left-hand side of the screen to scroll through the decades, or click on a year above to jump to that decade. Click on the magnifying glass to read more about a particular event.

    With thanks to Geoffrey Rivett, contemporary health historian and author of the website: www.nhshistory.net, for his help in editing and reviewing the timeline content.

  • 1942December

    Medical treatment covering all requirements will be provided for all citizens by a national health service
    Sir William Beveridge (1942)

    Sir William Beveridge’s report, Social Insurance and Allied Services, proposes major changes to create the foundations for a welfare system and, in its support, a national health service (the details are left for later).

  • 1944Feburary

    The White Paper, A National Health Service, is published, which was prepared by Minister for Health, Henry Willink.

  • 1945July

    The 1945 British General Election takes place in early July following a month-long campaign.

  • 1945August

    Aneurin Bevan is made Minster for Health following the 1945 General Election.

  • 1946July

    The National Health Service Act 1946 is published.

  • 1948July 5

    This is the biggest single experiment in social service that the world has ever seen undertaken.
    Aneurin Bevan (1948)

    The National Health Service (NHS) is created.

  • 1949December

    The NHS is given the power to levy a charge for prescriptions.

  • 1949

    It is the policy of the Government to relieve nurses of all work not requiring nursing skill.
    Baron Shepherd, House of Lords Chief Whip (1949)

    The Nurses Act 1949 establishes a modern framework for the role of nursing within the NHS. Rising costs give cause for concern.