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The National Health Service Act came into effect on 5 July 1948. The Act provided for the establishment of a comprehensive health service for England and Wales. There was separate legislation produced for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The first Minister of Health was Aneurin Bevan MP. The Act stated that it shall be the duty of the Minister of Health to promote the establishment of a health service to secure improvement in the physical and mental health of the people and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness. The Act stated that the services shall be free of charge. The Act brought together a wide range of medical services under one organisation, including hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists. Local voluntary hospitals were brought into national public ownership and were organised by regional hospital boards, family doctors became self-employed and local authorities held responsibility for community services such as immunisations, maternity clinics and community nurses.
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