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The search for a social market policy

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 16 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:710

Ever since the command economies of eastern Europe collapsed the Western world has been struggling to find an economic model for public services that isn't as rapacious as pure free market capitalism, yet retains some of the strengths of markets—such as efficiency and responsiveness to what people actually want. Some of the difficulties have been apparent during Britain's drought this summer: the newly privatised water companies have borne a barrage of criticism about water restrictions, leaking pipes, and inadequate investment, and we seem simply to have replaced inefficient public water monopolies with inefficient private ones. In other parts of the world private utilities are models of efficiency and customer responsiveness, so Britain's may be in time. Health services, however, are a different …

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