The National Health Service was absorbed surprisingly quickly into British life. The then Minister of Health (Derek Walker-Smith) looked back with pride in 1959 on three years of Labour and eight years of Conservative administration of comprehensive medical services: "The task of taking over nearly 3000 hospitals, most of them old and of differing size, capacity, standards and traditions was no small one." 1 The change in government in 1951 had made little difference to the basic policy of the service. Certain charges were introduced to patients as an economy measure by the Labour Government in 1951-originally for dentures and optical appliances-and these were increased and extended to include prescription charges under successive Conservative administrations; but even under the increases in 1961 (when Enoch Powell was Minister), payments made by patients using the service represented under 7 per cent of the NHS budget.2 For the most part the ideal of a comprehensive, free medical service was fulfilled, even though the development of facilities was hindered by national financial stringency.