Editorials

Learning from the NHS

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7223.1449 (Published 04 December 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1449
  1. Jennifer Dixon, policy adviser,
  2. Alex Preker, senior health economist
  1. Chief Executive's Private Office, NHS Executive, London SW1A 2NS
  2. Human Development Department, World Bank, Washington, DC 20433, US

    NHS continues to be an important test bed for reform in health care

    The British National Health Service has been a great inspiration for other countries during the past 50 years. A central theme has been the role that the state can play in securing health care for its population. What can other countries learn from the latest reforms in the NHS and the new role of the government in health care?

    Governments have become central to health policy, engaging in both the financing and the provision of a wide range of care. Most countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, for example, have achieved universal access to health care through a mix of public and private providers and sources of finance.1 Proponents of public sector involvement in health care have rooted their arguments in both philosophical and technical grounds. In most societies care for the sick and disabled is considered an expression of humanitarian aspirations. But economic theory also provides ample justification for such an engagement to secure efficiency2 and equity.3 The past 100 years is …

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