Editorials

Paying for the NHS

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7229.197 (Published 22 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:197

First decide how much we are willing to pay, then think about how to collect it

  1. Elias Mossialos,
  2. Anna Dixon,
  3. Martin McKee
  1. LSE Health, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE
  2. ECOHOST, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    News p 205

    Criticisms last week of government policy on the NHS by someone who is not only a senior doctor but also a Labour peer and media personality inevitably attracted widespread attention. In a week in which the apparent failure of the NHS to cope with an influenza epidemic had barely been out of the headlines, Lord Robert Winston, a fertility specialist, argued that the NHS is in a worse state than under the previous government and that a new system of health—care financing is needed if it is to perform at a level comparable to that seen in the rest of western Europe.1 Although media coverage of his interview soon moved to whether his retraction of the comments the following day had been entirely voluntary,2 his call for a review of NHS funding echoes that of many others.3 So how does the NHS compare with the rest of Europe and, more importantly, what should it be spending?

    Turning first to inputs, the United Kingdom spends 6.7% of its gross domestic product on health care. This is less than any other member of the European Union except Ireland and well behind Germany (10.7%), France (9.6%), and Sweden (8.6%). …

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