Social Work and NHS History

My latest contributions for the People’s History of the NHS website are a blog post and a longer accompanying entry for our growing Encyclopaedia, both looking at the impact of the introduction of the British National Health Service on medical social work. 

World Social Work Day (Tuesday 15 March in 2016) is a good time to look back to the history of social work – and, for us, its historic relationship with the NHS. It suffers from not being a profession with a history as long as medicine or having the totemic figures of nursing. Like occupational health, it can be a largely invisible profession to everyone but those for whom it shapes their experience with the NHS. This means social work is not necessarily an obvious aspect of the NHS’s history for us to think about, but it is an important one. So what is that history? …

Read more at People’s History of the NHS: Social Work and NHS History

Medical social work was placed in an odd position by the arrival of the NHS in 1948. The profession had gained a high-status foothold in British hospitals by administering the patient payment schemes that rapidly became commonplace in the financially turbulent years following the First World War. The fact that no such role would exist once a health service free at the point of use was established could easily have posed an existential threat. Yet this did not happen, and this is testament to how much the profession and its role in the hospital had changed over its first half-century…

Read more at People’s History of the NHS: Social Work and the Coming of the NHS


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