Resource allocation is a central part of the decision-making process in any health care system. Resources have always been finite, thus the ethical issues raised are not new. The debate is now more open, and there is greater public awareness of the issues. It is increasingly recognised that it is the technology which determines resources. The ethical issues involved are often conflicting and relate to issues of individual rights and community benefits. One central feature of resource allocation is the basing of decisions on the outcomes of health care and on their subsequent economic evaluation. The knowledge base is therefore of great importance as is the audit of results of clinical treatment. Public involvement is seen as an integral part of this process. For all parts of the process, better methodologies are required.
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