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Ministry of Health Act 1919

The Ministry of Health Act 1919 established the Ministry of Health, despite resistance from members of the Local Government Board at the time, who feared the break-up of the Poor Law administration if the health function was removed.

Its role was to 'take all such steps as may be desirable to secure the preparation, effective carrying out and co-ordination of measures conducive to the health of the people'.

The Ministry of Health took over the functions of the Local Government Board and National Health Insurance administration, all local authority health-related duties, such as midwifery, and became responsible for public health service provision.

In addition to its health functions, the new ministry became responsible for the administration of:

  • the Poor Law
  • national insurance
  • local government
  • planning
  • housing and environmental health.

Later developments

In 1968, the functions of the Ministry of Health were transferred to the new Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS), which split into the Department of Social Security (DSS) and the Department of Health in 1988. In 2018, the department was renamed the Department of Health and Social Care.


Baggot R.
Public health, policy and politics.
2nd edn.
Palgrave Macmillan; 2011.