Politicians will go to any lengths to persuade the voting public that the National Health Service is safe in their hands. Alternative policy models cannot be placed before the electorate unless political parties take huge risks. Yet, at the same time, we see even a Labour government drawing private finance into the health service and giving patients rights to use the private sector. This groundbreaking new study shows that, although the politicians do not feel confident in proposing radical new models of healthcare, elite opinion in the media, in political circles, in academia and in policy think tanks has fallen out of love with the idea of a centrally planned health service provided and financed by government. Elite opinion does not, as yet, warm to a free market in healthcare. Although aspects of a market-based system are accepted, ideas of 'market failure' loom large - especially amongst the political-class. Nevertheless, the author shows how some groups of opinion formers are prepared to be more radical.
These groups, she believes, may in time be effective in promoting a vision of a market in healthcare that is free from government interference and from the stifling power of government-granted professional monopolies.
Helen Evans is a health policy expert and a registered nurse with a wealth of clinical and health care delivery experience. She is currently director of Nurses for Reform, a health fellow with the Adam Smith Institute, and a director of the leading predictive public affairs consultancy Farsight SPI. She has worked for a range of think tanks, including the Centre for New Europe in Brussels and as a senior nurse in the Royal London Hospitals Trust and St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Stephen Pollard is president of the Centre for the New Europe.