Do you know the story of the Beggars of Bath? Or the history of ‘The Min’ – the UK’s first national hospital? The journey to a National Health Service began long before 1948 and we continue to read that the NHS is in crisis – a story of health services on the verge of collapse, rows over funding, a huge burden of disease, even fierce accusations of health tourism.
In fact, it’s a story dating back 400 years, to the city of Bath.
A little known Act of Parliament in 1597, during the reign of Elizabeth I, gave the “diseased and impotent poor of England” the right to use the ‘Baths of Bath’ — whose thermal waters were believed to have healing properties — free of charge.
However, the access to free treatment saw swathes of people flood into the city. Just over 100 years later the city was overwhelmed by the influx of beggars — who became known as the “Beggars of Bath”.