Bevan is St David’s Day Icon

People A man speaking at a microphone
NewsMarch 1st, 2012

Aneurin Bevan has been voted a ‘St David’s Day Icon’ in a Western Mail poll of the most influential people in Wales’s history. The vote follows the caseput for him by Bevan Foundation Director, Victoria Winckler, which pointed out Aneurin Bevan’s critical role in introducing the NHS in Wales and improving housing.

“The NHS has not only ensured that everyone, irrespective of their wealth, has access to treatment, it has also enabled new treatments to emerge”, she said, continuing that “In so doing, people’s health is dramatically better – in the first 10 years of the NHS alone, deaths from tuberculosis fell by 78%; the infant mortality rate fell by one third and the maternal mortality rate more than halved.”  The NHS today is one of our most valued institutions. A recent Ipsos MORI poll found nearly two-thirds of the population think the NHS is good value for money, and among those who have had NHS treatment, more than 85% are either very or fairly satisfied with the treatment they received.

Bevan’s contribution to housing was just as significant though less widely recognised, Victoria Winckler argued. Bevan’s 1949 Housing Act removed the statutory restriction of public housing to the “working classes” – council housing was to become available to all, so its occupants could create “a living tapestry of mixed communities” of people from all backgrounds.  For a short time, council housing was a genuine alternative to private renting or ownership, and was built in large quantities. More council houses were built in Wales between 1945 and 1951 than in the last 36 years.

Bevan’s ‘crown’ follows his election as Wales’s hero in 2004 by popular vote.


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