Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 6(1) September 2002 : 60-62.doi:10.12927/hcq..16670

Vision and Grip: Demand Management in the U.K. National Health Service

Alex Berland


Each day of the year in the U.K. National Health Service, about one million people visit their GPs and another 2,000 new NHS patients are born. Endemic poverty, poor health habits and a population older than Canada's complicate matters further. Demand management through tight funding had been the norm in the Thatcher era, until Tony Blair's New Labour government pledged to improve the health service. Conscious of voters' tax sensitivity, their early efforts focused on one-time capital investment in a major hospital-building campaign. Soon though, in the wake of scandals, ministers realized that more operating funds would also be necessary. Tony Blair produced the "NHS Plan" with detailed promises to raise health spending by about one-third, to the European Union average (from 6.8% of GDP in 1998 to 8% by 2004). That money has been flowing for over two years now with noticeable improvements, despite problems recruiting skilled staff.



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