I was immediately drawn to this book because of the title. How could I not be interested, after spending a lifetime in medicine? However, this is not a history of 'great medical men and their clinical achievements'. It is a collection of essays which examines the complex relationship between the public and the private provision of health care in Wales during the last two hundred years. The information has been gathered from a variety of sources including film, oral testimony, social research and the more usual documentary records.
The themes explored are interesting and wide-ranging: the way our forefathers went about the task of providing water supplies; the early provision of medical care for workers and their families through the efforts of 'Workers' Committees' and their insistence in establishing and maintaining 'Cottage Hospitals' in their district (an embryonic forerunner of our NHS). Different perspectives are given about suicide and the perceived need for asylums to treat mental illness; nurse training (and its implications) in Cardiff during the first World War; and the rather ambiguous role of the Health Visitor in more recent times. The so-called 'male take-over' of childbirth from midwives by obstetricians is another topic discussed, but while there is a need to listen to mothers who feel abused by this trend, I feel we must also remember that (thankfully) maternal deaths are extremely rare in modern times.
Successive governments have wrestled with the difficulties involved in attempting to provide adequate health and medical services for people. Private versus public is a constant bone of contention. In recent times, people are expected to take an increasingly more important role in maintaining their own good health e.g. by not smoking etc. But inequalities in health are known to result from poor social circumstances. These have to be addressed if politicians are in earnest about meeting the health and medical needs of the whole population.
This book discusses aspects of all these issues in depth and in an impartial way and I thoroughly recommend it.
Dr Mair Walker
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ai www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Medicine in Wales, c.1800–2000: Public Service or Private Commodity?
Edited by Anne Borsay
pp x252 216x138mm July 2003 hardbackISBN 0–7083–1824-X
Medicine in Wales, c.1800–2000 is the first book to deal with the history of medicine in Wales in an interdisciplinary context. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, from documentary records to film, oral testimony, and participatory social research, the essays collected here examine how the relationships between the public and the private provision of healthcare have changed since the Industrial Revolution. Individual case studies explore themes that range from the water supply to suicide, from mutual aid to industrial rehabilitation and the medical inspection of school children, and from nursing during the First World War to experiences of childbirth and health visiting after 1945.
Throughout the book, particular attention is paid to the partnership between the state, scientific knowledge, and professional expertise, and to its implications for the producers and consumers of healthcare in terms of class and citizenship, family, gender and community, and the urban/rural contrasts within Welsh national identity. Medicine in Wales, c.1800–2000 is a major contribution to the social history of medicine and health in Wales, especially now that the secondary legislative powers that accompanied devolution are allowing distinctively Welsh health policies to flourish.
Anne Borsay is Professor of Healthcare and Medical Humanities at the University of Wales, Swansea. She is the author of Welfare Rights: The Local Authorities’ Role (1978), Disabled People in the Community (1986) and Medicine and Charity in Victorian Bath: A Social History of the General Infirmary, c. 1739–1830 (1999).
List of Illustrations
List of Contributors
•Medicine and Health: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives Anne Borsay and Dorothy Porter
•Public Utility or Private Enterprise? Water and Health in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Richard Coopey and Owen Roberts
•From Private Grief to Public Testimony: Suicides in Wales, 1832–1914 Pamela Michael
•The Early School Medical Service in Wales: Public Care or Private Responsibility? David Hirst
•A Proletarian Public Sphere: Working-Class Provision of Medical Services and Care in South Wales, c.1900–1948 Steven Thompson
•Public Service and Private Ambitions: Nursing at the King Edward VII Hospital, Cardiff during the First World War Sara Brady
•‘Fit to Work’: Representing Rehabilitation on the South Wales Coalfield during the Second World War Anne Borsay
•Private Lives and Public Bodies: Childbirth in Post-war Swansea Susan J. Pitt
•‘It’s a Funny Job Really’: The Contradictions of Health Visiting Anthea Symonds
•Water, Health and the Public/Private Interface Mark Drakeford
•Contrasting Perspectives of Inequalities in Health and in Medical Care David Greaves
List of Contributors
•Anne Borsay B.Sc.Econ. (Wales), M.Litt. (Oxon), Ph.D. (Wales) is a professor in the School of Health Science at the University of Wales Swansea.
•Sara Brady BA (Bath Spa University College), MA (Wales) is a part-time Ph.D. student in the Department of History at the University of Wales, Lampeter. She also works in Information Services at Cardiff University.
•Richard Coopey MA, Ph.D. (Warwick), FRSA is a lecturer in economic history at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics. He is president of the International Water History Association.
•Mark Drakeford BA (Kent), B.Phil. (Exeter), Ph.D. (Wales), CQSW teaches at Cardiff University and is currently on secondment to the Welsh Assembly, where he is a policy adviser to the health minister.
•David Greaves MB, BS, MA (London), M.Litt. (Aberdeen), Ph.D. (Wales) is an honorary senior lecturer in medical humanities at the University of Wales Swansea.
•David Hirst B.Sc.Soc. (London), MA (Manchester), Ph.D. (Wales) is a senior lecturer in social policy at the University of Wales, Bangor.
•Pamela Michael BA, MA, Ph.D. (Wales) is a lecturer in health and social policy at the University of Wales, Bangor.
•Susan J. Pitt, BA, Ph.D. (Wales) was awarded her doctorate by the University of Wales, Lampeter in 1996.
•Dorothy Porter BA, MA (Sussex), Ph.D. (London) is a professor in the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
•Owen Roberts BA (York) is a lecturer in history at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
•Steven Thompson BA, Ph.D. (Wales) is a lecturer in history at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
•Anthea Symonds B.Sc. (Bath), M.Sc. (Sussex), Ph.D. (Birmingham) is a part-time lecturer in social policy at the University of Wales Swansea.