The white paper A national health service, published in 1944, detailed the wartime coalition government’s vision for a comprehensive, free and unified health service.
It was proposed that this new responsibility for providing a comprehensive health service would lie with the minister of health at the central level, where a new body was to be created to perform functions in relation to general practice.
Local responsibility would rest with local government (at county and county borough council level), operating over their existing areas and jointly over a larger boundary (joint authorities). The joint authorities would have a general duty to plan and administer a hospital service for their area, either through direct management of hospitals or through contracts. At this point, the government did not plan on nationalising voluntary hospitals.