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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
NHS History: The 1970s
1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s

The early 1970s saw the NHS continue in an optimistic mood, with real advances in medical progress. Transplants were becoming available and intensive care units were now widely available.

The very first CAT (computerised axial tomography) scan was introduced to the NHS, providing cross-sectional X-rays of human body. They became commonplace by the end of the decade.

The first GPs charter was also introduced, encouraging the growth of primary care in the UK and sparking an increase in the number of health centres around the country.

New hospitals were coming online and giving people a better standard of care, and the first computers found their way into NHS hospitals.

Royal commission

The CAT scan was one of the innovations brought in during the 1970s
But even back in the 1970s, there was a furious debate on the best way for the NHS to evolve. One of the key moves was to try and match local health authority boundaries with the new boundaries created in local government.

A new system of distributing the resources of the health service more evenly was also implemented in 1974, but it soon came under fire for being too complicated and top heavy with managers.

Less than two years later a Royal Commission had been appointed to look into the problem.

Matters weren't helped when industrial action hit the NHS and consultants kicked up a fuss about proposals to reduce the amount of private work they undertook. Financial problems also hit the service in 1978 and 1979 as oil shortages in the 'winter of discontent' took hold.

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