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National Health Service

A service established for England and Wales in 1946, reorganized in 1974, and now governed by the National Health Service Act 1977. It is concerned with the provision of hospital, specialist, general practitioner (medical, dental, ophthalmic, and pharmaceutical), nursing, ambulance, and related services, under the ultimate responsibility of the Secretary of State for Health. In England and Wales it is administered operationally by District Health Authorities, which are grouped under Regional Health Authorities with overall planning responsibility. In Scotland the regional tier is omitted and overall responsibility lies with Area Health Authorities. There are also family practitioner committees, concerned with the administration of the general practitioner services, and community health councils to represent the public interest. Proposals for reorganization of the National Health Service were published at the beginning of 1989.

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