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Geoffrey Rivett

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Geoffrey Rivett    

Geoffrey Rivett was educated at Manchester Grammar School, Brasenose College Oxford, and University College Hospital.  After house jobs and national service in the RAMC he joined an innovative and rapidly growing general practice in Buckinghamshire in 1960.  In 1972 he entered the Department of Health and worked in three fields closely connected with the NHS.  These were the introduction of computers into medicine (1972-1976), the planning and management of health services in London and the south-east (1976-1985), and the refashioning of the contractual and quality framework of general practice and primary health care at the time of the NHS reforms (1985-1992).  As a civil servant it was his task to argue in turn for NHS reorganisation, planning and co-terminosity (1974); restructuring on a district basis (1982); the general management function (1984); and the Conservatives' NHS reforms (1989).  

During the eighties and early nineties, while at the Department of Health, he visited the US regularly to study ideas that might be suitable for transfer to the UK. He visited Kaiser Permanente and other HMOs, and centres of expertise in quality, accreditation and nurse practitioner training. He was never far from the medical and political firing line.

Geoffrey Rivett



While at the Department of Health he wrote his first book, The Development of the London Hospital System 1823-1982, (King's Fund 1986) on the evolution and systematisation of the hospital service in London.  This has now been issued as a second edition covering the period of 1823-2015 and can be purchased through the home page
In retirement he returned to contemporary medical history writing  From Cradle to Grave: fifty years of the NHS, published by the King's Fund in 1998. This history combines 
  • The clinical developments in the major specialties since 1948
  • The concurrent changes in primary health care and the hospital service
  • The political and financial background

It also has been revised with additional material, making it necessary to divide it into two volumes, 1948-`987 and 1988 to the present.  It is available on print-to-order or as an e-book from the home page.

This book, with a foreword by the then Prime Minister (Tony Blair), was published at the beginning of 1998, the 50th anniversary year of the NHS.  It was well reviewed and there were substantial sales.  As the NHS continues to change, the material is kept up to date on Internet and a second edition is available.  Geoffrey Rivett is committed to the idea of an effective health care system, sees much that is good in the NHS, but is prepared to criticise when necessary In 2004 he was elected as a governor of the Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust being vice-chair of the governors from 2007-13. In the anniversary year he wrote extensively on the service and has contributed to radio and TV programmes for example BBC Two and the World Service.  In 2009 was invited to give the David Fine Distinguished Lecture at the University of Southern Mississippi.  He speaks on the NHS, for example to US students from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Chinese hospital CEOs at the Moller Centre, Churchill College. He has also spoken at Gresham College and the Bishopsgate Institute.

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, a member of the RSM, and a liveryman of the Apothecaries and Barbers.  His interests include photography (he is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society) and web-authoring.  He lives in the Barbican in central London.  His web site is at and he can be reached at

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