Intended for healthcare professionals


Alan Maynard: the “Voltaire of health economics”

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 22 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k871
  1. Maria Goddard
  1. Centre for Health Economics, University of York
  1. maria.goddard{at}

“I will not have my health policies dictated by some punk professor from York.”

Whether the then health secretary, Ken Clarke, actually used those words, they proved prophetic. Many key NHS polices of the 1990s and 2000s were indeed inspired—if not dictated—by Alan Maynard, through his razor sharp wit and inimitable maverick style of communication.

Appointed as a lecturer to the University of York in 1971, Alan led the way in health economics and health policy for the best part of half a century, creating York’s MSc in health economics, founding the Centre for Health Economics, and launching the journal, Health Economics.

Passion for evidence

The combination of bold and challenging views, delivered in his trademark acerbic style, made Alan a formidable “intellectual agent provocateur”—an approach that won him both friends and foes in the medical profession. His passion was evidence—its creation and use to inform and evaluate health policy—and he deplored the constant “re-disorganisation” of the NHS based on political whim or the influence of powerful interest groups. As an economist, he also knew that …

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