Book News: July 24th, 2008

By Joe Farrington-Douglas and Miguel Castro Coelho

This report from the Institute of Public Policy Research examines the role of private spending in health. The think tank finds that the private sector plays a valuable role in the UK health system. However, it argues that attempts to meet the challenge of sharply rising healthcare budgets by shifting costs from the public to the private purse, for instance by greater use of co-payments and top-ups or a move to more private insurance, are unlikely to make the health service more efficient. It argues that public funding for the NHS is likely to have to continue increasing to reflect public preferences for improved levels of healthcare.

The report identifies long-term trends in increasing spending on healthcare. It says that the NHS will need to respond to steep cost rises over thecoming decades as people live longer and expect more, technological developments raise demand, and the cost of employing doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff increases. Based on forward projections made by the Wanless report, ippr says that Britain will need to spend an additional 6bn
to 16bn pounds by 2012.

Despite these increased demands, ippr’s research shows that publicly funded healthcare systems still deliver best value and that governments who have tried to shift costs from the public to private purse rarely save, and sometimes increase, costs.

The report is available from the Institute.