Medicine through time

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Public Health Act

The Public Health Act of 1848 was the outcome of Chadwick's Sanitary report and the pressure applied on Parliament by the Health of Towns Association.

The legislation went some way towards acieving the goals of Chadwick and the Association. The main features of the act were:

  • The establishment of a Central Board of health
  • Responsibility for water supplies and drainage, amongst other things, was given to corporations
  • Permission was granted to towns that did not have corporation status to have a Local Board of health
  • Taxes would be levied, locally, to pay for the improvements
  • Where the death rate exceeded 23 in every 1000, a Local Board of health could be imposed by the Central Board of health

This act was one of the first to challenge the notion of Laissez-Faire. however it had its limitations. The Central board of Health had limited funds and there was no compulsion to ensure that officials were suitably trained or qualified. Within some localities there was hostility to interference from cetral government and this led to inadequate improvements being made. Health was still not a ministerial responsibility, and therefore the power of the Central Board of health was limited.

 

 

 

 

 

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