From the patient's point of view the National Health Service Act was the culmination of a developing social philosophy. Gradually, the individualist philosophy of nineteenth-century laissez-faire had been replaced by gov­ ernmental responsibility for those who were dependent or who were un­ protected against certain economic risks; until finally, accelerated by the depression and two world wars, the concept of dependency changed into acceptance of a broad doctrine of social rights. The availability of free edu­ cation for all, without a means test, was one such goal, achieved in 1944; comprehensive free medical care was another. The National Health Service could be regarded as one plank in the social platform of both the wartime Coalition and the Labour Government, crystallized out of the needs of the 1930s and brought to fruition after World War II . Over the same period, accelerated by the great advances in scientific techniques, the doctor became an essential public figure whose education, competence, availability and responsibility were matters of general concern.