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Synopsis

The National Health Service, described by Nigel Lawson as Britain's only 'national religion', has never been more popular. So why is the government so desperate to reform it?

Last year, the Office of National Statistics reported higher public satisfaction with the NHS than at any time since its foundation. In a 2012 survey of developed countries, the UK showed the highest public support of its health system. Politicians can hardly be surprised then, when their plans to reforms are met with public dismay and professional fury.

This year has seen one of the most bruising political battles ever fought over the future of the NHS. The twenty-two month fight to push the NHS and Social Care Act through parliament prompted the most widespread political campaign by doctors since Aneurin Bevan established the NHS in 1948. It cost the coalition government dearly and shredded the reputation of the Secretary of State for Health.

So why did they do it? God Bless the NHS looks at the ideology behind the current reforms and the reasons why the government decided to take on the nation's most treasured institution. Roger Taylor looks equivocally at those who support and oppose the new system, and at the patchy history of attempts to reform the NHS and the likelihood of the success this time round. Finally, it addresses the political failure at the heart of the problem and the inevitable conflict when politics and medicine mix.

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