18 June 1948

The NHS should not come into force on 5 July - it had been suggested - because of the shortage of doctors, nurses, hospitals, health centres and equipment, said health minister Aneurin Bevan. But that was nonsense, because if it was postponed until there were no shortages, it would never start. So long as progress was possible, there would be a need for more people and things than were available. If there were shortages now, all the more reason why what was available should be intelligently used, and why those who needed them most should have them first.

Efforts were being made to recruit more nurses. Great improvements had been made in hospital domestic staff so nurses could devote more time to patients. After the NHS Act had been in force for some months, it should itself be the best recruiting agency for nurses.

Mr Bevan said he was anxious NHS staff should have a share in its administration and policies. Men and women today would not give of their best if treated as robots and ciphers.