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Your Very Good Health (1948)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Charley, an animated everyman figure, cycles through the streets of his neighbourhood, accompanied by an authoritative voiceover listing some of the public health services that exist in Britain: mains drainage, water supply, refuse disposal and street cleaning. The voiceover announces that the new Health Act proposes to organise personal health services in a similar way. With the present system, it continues, not everyone can afford medical treatment and some towns are well served by hospitals while others aren't. Charley is sceptical about the new system and doesn't see how he and his family will benefit from it, given that he is already registered under the national insurance-based scheme for low-paid workers known as 'The Panel'. The voiceover points out the limitations of the 'Panel' system, which only covers half the population, and doesn't cover hospital treatment or workers' wives and dependents.

An imaginary sequence illustrates what would happen if Charley fell off his bike and sustained a complicated injury. Under the new system, he would be taken in an ambulance to hospital (which, he is reminded, would cost a couple of quid under the current scheme), and would have to cover all subsequent hospital bills. Under the new scheme, however, Charley would be transported free of charge to the hospital, where he would receive as much treatment as necessary for his recovery. Consultations with specialists and medication would be administered at no cost. The same would automatically apply to his wife and children.

Now fully convinced of the merits of the new NHS system, Charley in turn makes it his business to enlighten others - starting with his wealthy neighbour George. Like Charley, George is initially sceptical but once properly informed he welcomes the service, realising it could save him a lot of money.