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The principle of QALY maximisation as the basis for allocating health care resources.
  1. J Cubbon
  1. Department of Public Health Medicine, University of Birmingham.


    This paper presents a case for allocating health care resources so as to maximise Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs). Throughout parallels are drawn with the grounds for adopting utilitarianism. QALYs are desirable because they are essential for human flourishing and goal-attainment. In conditions of scarcity the principle of QALY maximisation may involve unequal treatment of different groups of people; and it is argued that this is not objectionable. Doctors in their dealings with patients should not be continually consulting the principle (though it can sometimes be useful); instead by following existing ethical codes more QALYs will be produced overall. In the formulation of policy, however, the principle should be applied in a thoroughgoing way and, if it is, it will not have some of the counterintuitive consequences it may have in interpersonal situations.

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