Birmingham Hospitals Contributory Scheme
Prior to the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948, hospitals were administered by local authorities or voluntary organisations. The latter hospitals were financed partly through charity schemes and partly through mass contributory schemes. The contributory schemes were known as Saturday Funds, whose members were lowly paid employees making small weekly subscriptions. The majority of these weekly payments were made through deduction from wages systems that were operated by employers, but could also be paid by cash to collectors calling at houses. Birmingham's Saturday Fund, the largest in the country outside London, was the Birmingham Hospitals Contributory Scheme.
As the Birmingham scheme expanded rapidly after the end of the First World War, the Bank became involved in the collection of contributions. The 1930 Annual Report included the following paragraph:
The Bank is rendering good service to the Birmingham Hospitals Contributory Scheme, by arranging that depositors may pay their contributions of 2d per week through their accounts. Already 876 depositors are taking part in the scheme.
The facility to pay contributions through the Bank was particularly useful to those members who did not have the facility to pay through their employment, which was mainly restricted to large firms. In most years from 1930 to 1948, the Bank reported the number of depositors making their contributions through the Bank, describing the payments as automatic - suggesting that this was an early form of Standing Order. The number of contributors reported annually was as follows: