‘..such a fine net that no individual can fall through it from good health into ill health’. The campaign for Social Medicine in Britain during the 1940s’


Sheena Evans
(Senior Visiting Scholar of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge)

Very little has been written about the campaign for social medicine in the early period of the 1940s. What there is tends to cover the limited field of medical education. In fact, the campaign was much broader than that, and its lasting effect was both stronger and more diffuse than has perhaps been realised. Its main protagonists included well-known names associated with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – most notably Wilson Jameson, Major Greenwood and James Mackintosh – as well as the visionary John Ryle and the much younger pioneering haematologist Janet Vaughan. All were linked by, and worked through, the old and newer sources of power embodied in the Royal College of Physicians, the Medical Research Council, the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust and the Nuffield Foundation, as well as the Interdepartmental Committee on Medical Schools – the Goodenough Committee – which reported in 1944. The reforms they advocated were linked to a vision of a comprehensive health service, coordinated with social services and industrial health services, and emphasising prevention rather than cure, which was not secured. Nonetheless, much was done to take forward those ideas in academic and research fields so as to influence health and social policy in the decades that followed.

Listen to Podcast

Wednesday, 29th January 2014, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: Bennett Room, Keppel Street Building