Seán Lucey
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On the brink of universalism
The Emergency Hospital Services in Second World War Northern Ireland
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This chapter examines the medical responses to the outbreak of the Second World War in Northern Ireland with an emphasis on Belfast. It focuses on the emergence of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS), established throughout the United Kingdom in response to the anticipation of likely air-raid casualties. Pre- Second World War hospital services in Belfast were piecemeal, lacking integration and provided by varying independent bodies including voluntary, municipal and poor law authorities. This chapter argues that the EMS brought a degree of integration previously unknown in Northern Irish health organisation and administration. This new found integration of war time medical services greatly influenced the ‘post war reconstruction’ and ‘planning’ of health. The chapter examines Northern Irish contexts and suggests that Irish and Northern Irish health care systems began to dramatically diverge during wartime. It also examines the relationship between Belfast and London’s Ministry of Health, and the challenges of devolved healthcare. In addition, the chapter examines the public health responses to the 1941 Belfast Blitz, and the overall effectiveness of wartime health services.

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