P2 Describe the origins of public health in the UK

Topics: Health care, Public health, Medicine Pages: 8 (3143 words) Published: April 6, 2014
P2 Describe the origins of public health in the UK
M1- Compare historical and current features of public health Public Health has been developing from the 19th century and is still developing in the present day. Public health was best described by the Yale professor Winslow in 1920 who described it as ‘the art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting physical health and efficiency through organized community efforts for the sanitation of the environment, the control of community infections, the education of the individual in principles of personal hygiene, the organization of medical and nursing services for the early diagnosis and preventive treatment of disease, and the development of the social machinery which will ensure to every individual in the community a standard of living adequate for the maintenance of health’. Public health covers a range of areas, and is constantly having to be changed to keep up with the changing health needs of the public. (Fleming, M. and Parker, E. (2009) An introduction to Public Health Churchill Livingston Elsevier: Australia)

During the Victorian Era, public health was not an issue that was dealt with by the government. There weren’t public hospitals, and only those from a wealthy background were able to access medical care. There was no such thing as vaccinations as there was very few educated on health, and many people died from diseases and infections in all classes, that now a day are easily treated. The people of this time were very uneducated about personal hygiene care and knew nothing about the spread of diseases. The people based their beliefs on their interpretations of what they saw going on around them. Due to the lack of knowledge it was believed if someone died it was because they were, for example, possessed by a daemon or they were a witch. In today’s society we have the understanding and science to allow us insight into the real reasons that people die and get unwell, we know that illness are not caused because someone is a witch.

During the 19th century there was many factories built which offered jobs to many people, so many people moved from the country to be near the factories as the transport systems were so poor. This meant that there was large numbers of people living in small areas. Though when the people began work in the factories, they soon realised that all was not as good as they had hoped for. In today’s world we have a far better transport network which means people can live in less confined areas, and they can travel easily to reach their places of work. Long working hours, poor wages and bad nutrition meant that people’s health started to decline, and it was in fact the more rural living people that lived longer. People were paid such bad wages and there was no benefits system in place, so when people were unable to afford a house for them and their families they were sent to the workhouse which was a last resort, in the workhouse people never got out alive, all dying shortly after they entered due to the vast amount of sickness that was there. Children went to work in the factories as soon as they were old enough, about 8 years old, and the woman also went to work in the factories as well as caring for the sick. This meant that the death rate in woman and children was especially low. In 1833 the Factory Act was put into place. This act was to regulate the working hours of woman and children, it took a long time to be implemented but it was a step towards the regulation of working conditions. (victorianweb.org 2006) Today is it illegal for a child to work until they reach the age of 16, and woman get paid leave from their jobs when they have a baby, this has meant that children are able to go to school and get an education and grow physically and intellectually instead of going to work from they can walk.

During this time there was no such thing as building controls, so the homes in which people lived were of bad conditions,...
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