British hospitals and their administration have changed dramatically since the nineteenth century, when the provision of medical care depended very heavily upon philanthropic bodies. The King's Fund was the leading charitable institution for the defence and development of London's voluntary hospitals before the creation of the National Health Service. Since 1948, it has worked alongside the NHS and has sought to promote good practice and innovation in health care through grants, training, and a range of other services.
Dr Prochaska's readable and scholarly study places the King's Fund in the wider context of the history of philanthropy and social provision. It provides an illuminating analysis of the evolution of the relationship between the voluntary and public sectors in the twentieth century, and points to the continuing importance of voluntary organizations to the nation's health and welfare.
`The virtue of Prochaska's book is that he has managed a reconciliation, providing a well-written and lucid account of the work of the King's Fund and at the same time making original and provocative points about moder British society which should be widely debated ... Prochaska develops a strong and provocative interpretation, which should lead to debate extending far beyond the King's Fund, and may even displace the Fund from the centre of attention.
`Prochaska's fascinating excavation of the King's Fund's archives draws back the veil and provides an insight into an organisation which, like the royal family, has always maintained an element of mystery.'
Geoffrey C Rivett, British Medical Journal
`Prochaska does full justice to an admirable institution whose achievements vindicate the case for welfare pluralism and exemplify the paradoxical role of tradition as a force for social change.'
Robert Pinker, Times Literary Supplement
'Whether or not you are interested in the King's Fund, please read this gem of a book. It is far more than a perceptive history of the Fund; it is all about the peculiar Englishness of the English in their shifting social attitudes to hospitals and how they should be run. He is the master of the telling detail and, above all, writes very well and vividly. For those of us who have lived with the Health Service since its inception, the fresh eye of F.K.
Prochaska gives new insights into what it is all about; he should be thanked as well as congratulated.'
A. Stuart Mason, Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London, Vol. 26, No. 3
'F K Prochaska's fascinating excavation of the King's Fund's archives draws back the veil and provides an insight into an organisation which, like the royal family, has always maintained an element of mystery ... the debate about the roles of state and the individual are not over and it is good to have these exposed from a historical perspective.'
British Medical Journal, Volume 305
'Prochaska has composed a readable and weighty-extended argument in defense of the voluntary charitable provision of medical care in Britain.'
Alisabeth A. Cawthon, University of Texas at Arlington, History, Fall 1993
'He provides an important addition to the growing literature on the voluntary sector which is rapidly changing the linear, welfare-state-obsessive historiography of British social policy ... a witty and lively account ... makes an important contribution to the history of modern British social policy, It tells us little about the sick, but a good deal about the Establishment.'
Michael E. Rose, University of Manchester, History No. 252, February 1993
`Prochaska provides a challenging account of the importance that philanthropy and the voluntary sector have played both in the planning and the financing of health and welfare provision. For anyone interested in the history ofthe monarchy, philanthropy, hospital and medical provision within London, and the overall evelopment of the welfare atate and the NHS, Prochaska's book offers a stimulating and challenging approach.'
The London Journal
`The author presents the history of the Fund, and much more.'
Bull. Hist. Med.