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February 28, 1948


JAMA. 1948;136(9):628-629. doi:10.1001/jama.1948.02890260036012

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In a plebiscite conducted by the British Medical Association 86 per cent of British physicians voted against working for the universal free medical service scheme that has been scheduled to take effect on July 5. Of course the scheme is not really free, since every tax payer in England contributes toward its support. If the physicians stand firm in their refusal to work, the British government would have only 3,560 general practitioners and 971 consultants to provide the National Health Service for about 47,000,000 people. In the plebiscite 89.5 per cent of British physicians disapproved the National Health Service Act in its present form. This vote was 40,814 to 4,735. As has already been said, 86 per cent voted against accepting the service, the vote being 24,340 to 4,084. Of these, 84 per cent said that they would conform with the major decision and would not accept service. This vote was 24,066 to 4,495. The ballots were sent to more than 56,000 doctors, and 82 per cent were returned. The British physicians are not striking against the sick; they will care for their patients but will not accept payment from the government.