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August 14, 1967

The Doctor, the Hospital, and the Patient in England: Rights and Responsibilities Under National Health Service

JAMA. 1967;201(7):567. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130070087042

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Since the adoption of the National Health Service Act in Great Britain in 1946, and its implementation in 1948, the American public and medical profession have been deluged with much heat, but not too much light, on the merits of the program. Since, as the author states, in this country the state and federal governments are taking ever increasing roles in regard to medical and hospital services, Great Britain's 18 years of experience, trying to strike the proper balance between individual freedom and public responsibility, are quite relevant to future developments here.

The British general practitioner is not a slave. He is legally an independent contractor who is clinically free to practice his profession as his judgment indicates. He can determine the pattern of his practice, select his professional colleagues and, with rare exceptions, choose his patients and his place of practice. He is not even required by the law