Professor Martin Roland: A brief history of NHS politics 1948-2030

Author Daniel Camero
Posted 2017.09.19

A brief history of NHS politics 1948-2030

Professor Martin Roland gives us a historical summary of politics in the NHS, beginning with the National Insurance Act in 1912, going through the publication of William Beveridge’s report in 1942 on how the health and social care should be organised (which laid the foundations for the welfare state in the UK), the past and current political questions around performance in the NHS, its financial viability, and the debate about the best model of funding.


The lecture, presented in front of an audience of over 200 people at the HSRUK Symposium 2017 reflects on three main questions:


  • Will the NHS ever be divorced from politics?
  • Is the NHS financially broke, and can it go on being funded by general taxation? 
  • Performance managing the NHS: managing doctors, and doctors as managers


Professor Roland then gave us some predictions about the political challenges that the service will face in the near future:


  • We will continue to see reorganisation of the service
  • The debate to find the best method of funding for the service will continue
  • We will see increasing pressure for integration with social care


See the full video of the lecture in our YouTube channel


Professor Martin Roland CBE is Emeritus Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Cambridge. He trained in clinical medicine at the University of Oxford, where he obtained his doctorate. Following vocational training for general practice, he worked in London and in Cambridge before moving to the Chair of General Practice in the University of Manchester in 1992. In 1994, he established and subsequently became Director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre. In 2009 he moved to the inaugural RAND Professorship in Health Services Research at the University of Cambridge, a post which he held until 2016 when he was succeeded by Professor Mary Dixon-Woods. Professor Roland’s main areas of research interest are developing methods of measuring quality of care, and evaluating interventions to improve care in the NHS. His previous areas of research include back pain, hospital referrals, out of hours care and skillmix in primary care. Professor Roland was a practising GP for 35 years from 1979 to 2014 and was appointed CBE in 2003 for Services to Medicine.