This book considers the historical development of health care from 1500 to the present day. The authors adopt a broad interdisciplinary framework to draw on the most recent research in the fields of medical and social history. While focusing primarily on the United Kingdom, they also trace the impact of European systems of health care on the colonial territories in the past, and its echoes in the relationship between the advanced economies and the developing world today. The central premise of the book is that the strengths and limitations of health care systems around the world can only be understood in the light of past practices and structures. For instance, only by reference to the historical record is it possible to understand the reasons for the dominance of acute hospital specialities, the Cinderella status of chronic care, the prejudice against alternative medicine, the difficulties experienced in regulating the medical profession, or in determining the sphere of responsibility exercised by nurses. "Caring for Health: History and Diversity" explores the growth of state involvement in health care, culminating with the welfare state model in the twentieth century.
The serious dilemmas confronting attempts to modernize health care are explored with particular reference to the UK National Health Service. Other important themes include: the shifting boundaries between formal and lay care, with particular attention to the role of women as health-care providers; the emergence of specialized health-care occupations and their extending aspirations to professionalization; and the changing definitions of public health and community care. It offers a comparative analysis of current methods of delivering and financing health care in the developed and developing world, and asks whether economic integration is leading inexorably towards a global health-care system.