British problems with international messages

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 05 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:i

One of Britain's most successful recent exports has been privatisation. The idea is to take a clapped out, state run monopoly, introduce competition, and sell it off to the private sector. If all goes well, the government gets a pot of money and consumers get a better service at lower cost. Despite Harold Macmillan describing the enterprise as “selling the family silver,” it worked well with British Telecom, British Airways, and various utilities. That's why many countries have tried privatisation. Unfortunately in Britain the idea was overextended and created chaos on the railways.

Privatising health services was a political step too far even …

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