This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume, which is about the history of the British hospital contributory schemes in the twentieth century. This volume provides a revised historiography of welfare, one that is no longer premised on a view of the ascent of state intervention as an unproblematic process of enlightenment and progress and that is increasingly concerned with welfare outside the state. It explores the development of acute in-patient care in relation to broader socioeconomic changes in Great Britain and in relation to changes in National Health Service (NHS) policy. This volume also attempts to relate the history of contributory schemes to a range of debates about the advantages and disadvantages of ways of organising and delivering welfare services.
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