A uniquely British creation
Posted on 1 November 2012 by Averil Mansfield
When I saw the bronze bust of NHS founder Aneurin Bevan in the corner of an antique shop, I knew it was ideal for the BMA.
The association’s senior officers graciously accepted my offer to donate the bust and Bevan has taken up residence in the Hastings Room, at BMA House, where I hope he will remind members of why the BMA believes in an NHS free at the point of use, providing high quality care to all.
There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the bust which I, my husband Jack and our friend Dafydd Thomas, an emeritus professor of clinical neuroscience who spotted the bust in the first place, are determined to solve.
We do not yet know who made the bust or why it ended up in a house in West Sussex which we think might have been used by trade unions or the Fabian Society.
Anyone who has any information about the bust should email firstname.lastname@example.org
In the course of my research into Bevan’s bust, I came across a wonderful comment made in 2008 by prime minister Gordon Brown which I think sums up Bevan’s legacy. He said that the NHS was a ‘uniquely British creation’ and was ‘still a uniquely powerful engine of social justice’.
That, to me, encapsulates why the BMA is such a strong, staunch supporter of the NHS and why we will fight for its future.
I certainly have memories of the days before the NHS. I was born in 1937 and I can remember my mother worrying about having to pay the doctor if anyone was sick. To have that worry taken away was transformational for households.
The health service is facing multiple threats at the moment. Giving pride of place to a bust of Aneurin Bevan shows the BMA’s continuing support for the NHS that he founded.
Averil Mansfield is BMA board of science chair and a former BMA president