This paper reviews the severe visual focus problems of health economists–they have developed a one-sided fixation with equity issues, neglecting the efficiency agenda. The problems of meeting need are not just about access–they will vary with cost and supply. Economists in fact developed a more balanced agenda in the 1970s but have failed to follow it up. The paper defines the triple nationalisation of the National Health Service (NHS), and presents evidence that pluralism, using the purchaser/provider split, has become more efficient in long term care, home care and services for people with learning difficulties. Health economics has failed to explore options for using the dynamic forces of choice and competition for improving health services. The paper makes the case for a decision rule that “we should seek the process of health care service supply and development which maximises the delivery of high quality, lower cost user relevant services”.
- Health economics
- National Health Service
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Nick Bosanquet, BA, Msc, is Professor of Health Policy, Department of Primary Care and General Practice, Imperial College School of Medicine, Imperial College, University of London.