The making of a cornerstone
in Migrant architects of the NHS
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Chapter 1 describes the evolution of British general practice between the 1940s and the 1980s, a period during which it took on a role as the ‘cornerstone’ of the NHS. In the years that immediately followed the inception of the NHS in 1948, the field’s status was low and the Collings report of 1950 offered a damning assessment of the care it offered. Gradually however, policy makers placed an increasing focus on the provision of care in community settings rather than the more costly environment of hospitals. In parallel, general practice went through a process of professionalisation and was recognised as a medical specialty. The combined effect of these developments was to consolidate the position of primary care at the heart of the British healthcare system. General practice nevertheless remained a fragmented field, with practitioners enjoying a great deal of professional autonomy. South Asian migrant doctors were key to these developments. General practice remained unpopular with British-trained doctors, so the presence of migrant doctors masked a recruitment crisis which was particularly acute in industrial areas. The fragmented nature of general practice also resulted in them having a significant impact on the nature of care on a day-to-day basis.

Migrant architects of the NHS

South Asian doctors and the reinvention of British general practice (1940s– 1980s)

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