The Latest From The Economist on The “Envy Of The World”

  • The NHS is preoccupied by austerity: it must find £20 billion (about $30 billion) worth of efficiency savings by 2015.
  • Further, the health service is still reeling from a failed central-computer project that has ended up costing over £12 billion (almost $19 billion).
  • Most importantly, innovations do not spread in Britain’s health sector because the NHS has no mechanism for ensuring they do, or for rewarding the inventive.
  • The service is centrally funded and emphasizes the universality of its care rather than its results.
  • As a result, the system is likely to prove better at controlling costs than at encouraging good ideas to thrive.
  • Additionally, because hospitals do not directly compete with one another (nor are they allowed to acquire one another unless they are in dire financial straits), PICS [which reduces errors and mortality] is not likely to be unilaterally adopted by other institutions.

More on the British National health service in The Economist.

Comments (6)

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  1. Linda Gorman says:

    What the NHS controls is expenditures. It isn’t clear that it does a good job of controlling costs.

  2. Alex says:

    After getting caught in the middle of a few protests when I was in London, I can assure you that Brits do not seem very happy with the NHS.

  3. Joe Barnett says:

    Without market prices, it is difficult to determine where to make investments, allocate resources or respond to changes in demand.

  4. Buster says:

    Controlling expenditures is easy: just ration care. Beds can be filled with stable patients convalescing from minor illness, which precludes the use of beds by for more expensive surgery patients and those needing costly therapies.

  5. otis says:

    By removing those obstacles that are preventing innovations from rising up through the NHS, British reforms could serve as a model to other European nations.

  6. Sergio says:

    Who says the NHS is the envy of the world!? Cuba has universal healthcare and more doctors as a percentage of the population than any other country. They spend 1/15 what we spend per capita and they have higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS… all this, even after 20 years of strict American sanctions and without access to any American medicine.

    The WHO put Cuba right next to the USA on quality/responsiveness of care, yet the USA is #1 in expenditures, while Cuba is in the bottom half of all countries.