As regular readers of this blog will know, I was recently awarded my PhD in health economics. As such, I thought I would share with you one of the books that most influenced my thinking not least because it gives great insights in to the real history and political economy of British healthcare.

Working Class Patients and the Medical Establishment: Self-help in Britain from the mid-nineteenth century to 1948 was written by Dr David Green, Director of the think tank Civitas . The book chronicles the history of healthcare provision via the Friendly Societies and other mutual aid organisations. Crucially, it recognises that:

“The working classes of nineteenth century Britain organised for themselves an extraordinarily effective scheme of medical care. Through the local friendly societies and medical institutes, they engaged doctors to care for them, and did so with a degree of success which this pioneering study reveals for the first time. A surprisingly high proportion of working men were covered.”

This is a truly great book which opens up a much neglected area.  It also has great implications for the controversy over the de-institutionalisation of welfare which is going on throughout the Western world today.

Sadly, while it is no longer in print I recently bought another copy from here . If you are minded and able to obtain one you will not be disappointed.