Doyle, Barry M. (2012) The economics, culture and politics of hospital contributory schemes: The case of inter war Leeds. Labour History Review, 77 (3). pp. 289-315. ISSN 0961-5652

The funding of hospitals in interwar Britain was transformed by the development of a range of schemes designed to raise money from patients in return for more or less assured access to treatment. Drawing on the nineteenth century traditions of mutual benefit societies and thrift agencies as well as the culture of trade unions, cooperative societies and friendly societies, they brought together small contributions to pool risk and costs for the workers. However, despite important recent research which has gone some way to open up the operation of these schemes to greater scrutiny and understanding, their social, cultural and political make up has received little attention and we know very little about who joined, how the schemes operated on a day to day basis and the extent to which they became politicised in the increasingly class ridden inter war years. This article examines these themes through a case study of The Leeds and District Workpeople’s Hospital Fund. Drawing on annual reports, the Leeds Hospital Magazine and the unpublished records of the scheme, it examines how it was organised on the ground, who ran it and if it was prone to class, ethnic and political segregation. Inter alia it explores whether it continued to operate as a pan-class mutual benefit activist organisation or if it succumbed to functionalist demands to provide insurance and guaranteed treatment.

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