Abstracts: December 13th, 2001

Present plans for the NHS fail to address the underlying causes of the problems from which the service suffers, according to a collection of articles in the December 2001 issue of Economic Affairs. The problem is defined as prescribing more of the same and failure to address the root causes of the problem. Continued reliance on public sector monopoly to provide services removes the incentive for quality improvement and client centred care that exists in competitive models with consumer choice. Moreover, tax funding constrains available resources. It is argued that features of the NHS which used to be considered as strengths are now weaknesses. The national planning exercise reinforced central direction of the service, dismissing major changes to the principles of the NHS or to its funding. It is argued that there seems to be a natural reluctance to admit that the NHS may be in need of more fundamental reform.Economic Affairs, Journal of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Volume 21, No 4 December 2001. Five pounds. Published by Blackwell jnlinfo@blackwellpublishers.co.uk