A flotilla, not a supertanker

Tomorrow the NHS Citizen team are up in Leeds, carrying on the mapping exercise that aims to find out all the different ways in which citizens (and citizens as patients) can have voice in the health system. We’ll be writing about it later in the week.

Around the time of the last workshop, someone pointed me at this brilliant extract from the 1943/4 annual report of an Islington charity, looking forward to the founding of the NHS. It’s still true today – and true far beyond the NHS.

“When one considers….the pioneering work carried out by the North Islington Infant Welfare Centre, and reflects that it is typical of many similar efforts, one may perhaps hope that eventually the relationship between public and voluntary enterprises may be so adjusted as to relieve voluntary bodies of the burden of constant struggle to raise funds for maintenance, while safeguarding their freedom to experiment and elasticity of method.

Pioneer work, research and experiment are vital to social progress, and all experience shows that freedom and audacity are more frequently found in voluntary than in public enterprise, largely because a voluntary committee can raise funds and run financial risks to put into practice schemes as yet unsupported by public opinion, in a way impossible for a body responsible exclusively for public funds.

 The National Health Service should, therefore, be a partnership, on terms so drawn up to allow each partner to give his best in service to all.” 


Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.