Heading back to the workhouse

At the AGM of the B&H Heritage Comission I was introduced to Val Brown, a historian who wrote a history of women’s hospitals in Brighton  and Hove.  She gave me a copy of it because it has a section on 101 Round Hill Crescent which was once such a hospital.  In the early pages she describes the provision of health services to the poor and not so well – off. Doctors and pharmacists with social conscience would provide a few hours each week from their private practices to work for a charitable institution called a dispensary.  A comittee of generally worthy folk would spend time raising subscriptions from the local wealthy businessmen, and seek support from a local noble.  Sponsors would have access to the great and good at social events and fundraisers, and they would also have access to the necessary letters of introduction, which they could then use to ensure their staff, servants and employees had access to the services.  This letter was considered necessary to stop just any unworthy poor person getting help.
This was the health service for most of  folk from the early 1800s.
I have also been reading a mystery by Margery Allingham,  published in 1952, in which a part of the plot centres on a circular letter sent out by an Institute for the Relief of Orphans in East Anglia,  with a Lord for president.  Exactly the same kind of structure as much of the USA depends on today – ladies who lunch raising money from wealthy people with the offer of useful social contacts, to provide a charitable service for the deserving poor.
And as far as I can see it’s the way we are heading here unless we find ourselves a socialist government.

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