Modern Medicine: 1900 onwards

Modern Medicine. c1900 to the present day

Medicine has been transformed in the modern world. Science and Technology have made huge advances since the end of the Victorian Age. Modern medicine has been aided by numerous factors. Legislation has been introduced relating to many aspects of medicine and public health. Medicine, social care and public health management take up a large proportion of the UK government budget and are regularly in the news. Warfare has led to changes. Some forced by new types of injury, others developed more rapidly due to military medical needs. The period has also seen scientific breakthroughs to match those of Pasteur. The Human Genome Project and the identification of DNA allowing a range of new treatments that improve the quality and length of life.

The Welfare State
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Alexander Fleming and the discovery of Penicillin
Alexander Fleming Penicillin Time Magazine Cover
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Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and the development of Penicillin

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History of the NHSNHS historyHistory of the NHS

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The Twentieth Century and the Making of the Modern World

The end of the Victorian age is not all that long ago. However, there has been a huge amount of change in society and medicine in this period. In 1900, there was no NHS. If you were ill, you couldn’t phone a doctors surgery and expect to be given a free appointment. You would not be given vaccinations as a matter of course. In 1900, if your family were in need, there was no national system of providing assistance. There was no job centre or benefit system as we know it. In 1900, people were very much reliant on themselves or the generosity of local communities. Charity hospitals, religious groups and philanthropists offered help. The provision of healthcare was variable and in some cases simply unobtainable, or not affordable.

Modern Medicine Bevan and the NHS
The opening of the NHS.

To change so much in little over one hundred years is a massive development. Numerous things have led to these changes. Politically, there have been demands made of successive governments to help people stay as fit, healthy and safe as possible. That saw the introduction of reforms following the election of the Liberals in 1906. Again, during the Second World War, there was a political need to look at health. That led, in 1948, to the NHS being founded.

Medicine in the Modern World has also benefitted from a technological revolution. Information can be accessed far quicker than ever before. The inside of the human body can be scanned and analysed as never before. Drugs have developed and methods of surgery are less invasive, meaning less pain, less blood loss and a lower chance of infection.