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National Medical Union, Manchester Branch, Archive

Date range: 1911–24.

The National Medical Union was established in Manchester in late 1911 to co-ordinate the opposition of doctors to the health insurance sections of the National Insurance Act 1911.

The Act introduced social insurance for selected groups of workers, whereby they contributed to an insurance pool, along with their employers and the government, and received benefits in the event of sickness or unemployment. Doctors opposed the medical insurance part of the scheme on the grounds that it was unduly restrictive and did not adequately remunerate them.

The NMU represented the militant wing of this opposition, which reflected more general concerns over the increasing power of the State over the medical profession. 

The campaign gradually faltered, particularly after the outbreak of war in 1914, and the Union disbanded in the early ’20s.

The majority of the archive comprises minutes of the executive committee and other committees of the NMU.

Some administrative papers also survive, including interesting documents on the Union’s alternative insurance proposals and its political activities.

Finding aids

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.


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Using the reading room in the Main Library

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