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How Significant Was Edwin Chadwick in Determining the Scope and Workings of the 1848 Public Health Act, 1834 - 1854?

  • Date Submitted: 04/11/2015 03:39 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 38.7 
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Chadwick argued that the ‘whole country would benefit as a whole’ if new reforms were implemented, however it’s clear that in many aspects, the act was much less far reaching than he had intended it to be due to various contributing factors. It could be said that one of Chadwick’s biggest self-limiting issues was his personality and the way he portrayed himself to others. There were other contributing factors that equally limited how much progress could have been made, such as a lack of medical knowledge, politics and the aspect of finance and taxes. However, it could be disputed that Edwin Chadwick’s work was a significant step forward- this is made evident in certain sources that state he certainly laid the foundation for future public health schemes, which definitely show that his ideologies were a crucial factor in determining later laws.

There are various factors that suggest the 1848 act was not as far reaching as it was intended to be, and the scope of the legislation was indeed rather minimal. One contributing element taken into consideration is the fact it was permissive so no one was forced to appeal for it and in order to have improvements passed, at least 10% of each town would have to sign a petition. However, many believed and argued that their towns were clean enough and didn’t require improvements, so it was not seen as necessary to have reforms implemented. Although this was a large problem in how significant and beneficial Chadwick’s work was, it did have some sufficient impact as it only applied where people wanted it, so opposition would not have been as great. Though in some areas where poverty was a large problem and hygiene was very minimal, people were so desperate for any form of solution to improve conditions that they welcomed any ideas and opportunities that were offered to them. However, it seems that the act did not go as far as Chadwick due to finance- highly influential people were not prepared to pay out which gave him a lot of...


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