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National Health Service History

Geoffrey Rivett

home inheritance1948-19571958-19671968-1977 1978-1987  1988-19971998-2007 2008-2017envoishort history London's hospitals




Medical and Institutional history of the National Health Service The Development of the London Hospital System, 1823 - 2013
Geoffrey Rivett From Cradle to Grave - the first 65 years of the NHS


Seldom has the NHS been faced with such major issues, rising expectations, improved but expensive health care, financial problems and the need to restructure the service to meet the demands particularly of older people with multiple conditions.   Geoffrey Rivett writes contemporary medical and institutional history.  His two books, originally published by the King's Fund, are kept up to date on internet on this site; navigate by using the links above.  Oddly at present there are few major political changes proceeding - under Simon Stevens and Jeremy Hunt consolidation seems the order of the day.


The London Hospital System history, and Cradle to Grave, the history of the NHS in two volumes, (the first up to 1988 and the continuation of the story up to the present) are now available in updated form.



Both books are in steady demand as the hits on this site demonstrate.   But there are advantages in having easy access to your own copy and health service, medical and nursing libraries certainly should have them.  The original editions of both are out of print so they have been brought up to date and are now available again in revised second editions. 
They are available on a print on order basis on paper, as a pdf and as an e-book and cost less than they did 20-30 years ago!  Hard copy black and white costs about £20 if you choose a soft cover and black and white printing on cream paper.

To order  them, click on the image of the book you are interested in on the right, or go to www.nhshistory.co.uk.

The Development of the London Hospital System starts in 1823 covers the roots of the hospitals, poor law, voluntary and fever, and how they came to be part of a system, a process continuing to this day.  It deals with the steps leading to the creation of the NHS better than the history of the NHS that takes the existence of the NHS as a given.
It costs from £5 to £25 depending on the format required.
new edition
The second book, Cradle to Grave, on the history of the National Health Service, is of wider interest, is substantially longer, and includes much clinical material and sections nursing and medicine, as well as organisational, political and financial material.  From Cradle to Grave is the most substantial account available of the NHS since its inception - what has happened from 1948 onwards and why, rather than what people think will happen. A reviewer described it as "an epic story full of drama, tragedy, intrigue and many instances of humour."  Devolution has created major differences between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the latter three countries are not specifically considered; neither do I stray into social services, dentistry or research. 


Cradle to Grave now includes extra material since the first edition ended in 1998 which makes it necessary to split it into two volumes.  The first covers the first four decades and the second from 1988 onwards.  Both parts can now be purchased in hard copy, as a pdf or an e-book, which is far cheaper.  Links will take you to the publisher's website, and if you purchase a book and not a download it will usually be delivered within 7-10 days by courier. The second part covering 1988 to the present is now also available in hard copy and as a pdf.  


book cover

cover part 2



Recent additions to the text include

Greater Manchester devolution
King's Fund Review of coalition reforms
Shelford Group hospitals reject tariff.
Circle ends Hinchingbrooke contract
King's Fund review of reconfiguration.
Ebola outbreak
Health Select Committee on Long Term Conditions
Keogh Reports on A&E and Seven day hospitals.
NHS England Five Year Forward View & primary care models.
Francis Report on Staffordshire & DH final response
Updated financial note (Parliamentary)
Site contents include
inheritance of the NHS in 1948 and the events from 1948 by decade

a summary of the past decades
a simple guide to the NHS (recently revised)and a link to BBC Archives on the NHS
a list of CMOs & Ministers pre and post 1948
Financial information,
earlier (for the UK) and later (for England) periods - see Parliamentary briefing)
site contents

Geoffrey Rivett  asserts intellectual ownership/copyright over this material.  However, you are at liberty to download the text for personal use, but not for commercial reproduction in another publication or web site, or for multiple copying for academic or business purposes.  You may use material from this site referencing as Rivett G. C. National Health Service History n.d. retrieved 8 July 2009 from www.nhshistory.net  (give correct date)

Declaration of interest:  I create, design and manage this site.  It receives no financial support from any quarter, and I am retired and neither in employment nor act in any consultant capacity. I welcome feedback.

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home inheritance1948-19571958-19671968-1977 1978-1987 1988-1997  1998-2007 2008-2017envoishort history London's hospitals



Geoffrey Rivett©