Posted July 5th 2018

Happy 70th birthday to the NHS

St Hugh’s alumna, Barbara Castle (Philosophy, Politics & Economics, 1932), as Secretary of State for Health and Social Services, campaigned to abolish pay beds in the NHS during the mid-1970s.

It wasn’t until 1977, after she was removed from her Cabinet post, that her objectives were achieved. It was the National Health Service Act 1977 that set out provisions which aimed to secure the separation of private and NHS facilities and to secure the progressive withdrawal of accommodation and services at NHS hospitals for private patients.

During Barbara Castle’s time in office, the NHS also faced considerable financial challenges, with economic instability and industrial disputes increasing the financial pressures on the NHS. In response to these challenges, Barbara Castle oversaw the introduction of resource allocation, which began to lessen the differences in health spending between the north and south of England.

In 1992, photographer Nick Sinclair created a series of parliamentarians’ portraits, including Barbara Castle, which were displayed in the National Portrait Gallery. Visit St Hugh’s to see Nick Sinclair’s stunning photograph of the Right Honourable Baroness Castle of Blackburn PC, Barbara Castle.

To learn more about Barbara Castle’s time in Government, read Baron Norman Warner’s fascinating memoir as her Principal Private Secretary in the 2017 St Hugh’s College Magazine.

Source material from St Hugh’s College & The Health Foundation. Portrait by Nick Sinclair, 1992.