NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 15, 2008

Last year, Gordon Brown commissioned Lord Darzi, a surgeon and health minister, to create a plan to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS).  Lord Darzi's final report contained some surprising conclusions, says the Economist.

For example:

  • The NHS will now have a new focus on quality, rather than quantity, of care.
  • Beginning next year, hospitals will put out annual "quality reports," with data on safety and outcomes.
  • More information is intended to help patients choose the best places to obtain treatment, and prod other institutions to raise their game.

The United Kingdom is following the way the health care industry is changing elsewhere, says the Economist.   For instance:

  • America's big insurers and managed health organizations are increasingly looking at quality indicators when purchasing and paying.
  • Lord Darzi says common Europe-wide measures are being developed that will make it easier to see which countries closer to the United Kingdom do best.

In exchange for the security of a largely state-funded system, Britons have a state-run monopoly that is unresponsive to patient needs and slow to innovate, says the Economist.  With health care inflation outstripping the ordinary kind and an increasing aversion to higher taxes, Briton's extraordinary low level of private spending on health may have to change. 

Source: "Keyhole Operation," The Economist, July 5, 2008.

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