Medicine transformed: on access to healthcare
Medicine transformed: on access to healthcare

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Medicine transformed: on access to healthcare

5 Calling in help

5.1 Introduction

When people did seek help for their ailments, most sought some form of outpatient care. For the upper and middle classes, during much of the nineteenth century, this meant calling in a general practitioner. The poorest could apply for help at the outpatient department of a charitable hospital or dispensary. Another source of help was to apply for assistance from local government – in some countries the local authorities employed doctors to care for the poor. In Britain, medical help was available through the Poor Law – the body responsible for all aspects of welfare. There was what historians call a ‘mixed economy of care’ – patients could either pay for the services of practitioners, or apply for free care from charities or local government agencies. The end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries saw a huge expansion in the availability of outpatient services – both through these existing outlets and through new facilities. The result was a patchwork of services, where the same care was available from numerous outlets, leading administrators to worry about inefficiencies and the over-provision of medical services.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus