Bradshaw, Gwendolen and Bradshaw, Peter L. (1995) The equity debate within the British National Health Service. Journal of Nursing Management, 3 (4). pp. 161-168. ISSN 0966-0429

The equity debate within the British National Health ServiceThis paper begins by identifying the principles of equity and fairness on which the British National Health Service (NHS) was founded in 1948. It then goes on to summarize the viewpoints of those who more recently have argued that equity is an out-moded, Utopian and unachievable concept that should not be applied to the delivery of health care services. A brief review is conducted of the definitions of equity and inequity as these apply to health care. Brief attention is paid to the relationship between equitable distribution of health care and social class. The new contemporary significance of equity for all NHS managers is exposed through a debate concerning the impact of the recently introduced policies for the implementation of a quasi-market in health services in Britain. The inseparable relationship between equity and the rationing of resources is identified as central to the just distribution of health care. The paper presents evidence that the quasi-market solutions to improved economic efficiency and cost-containment are often in direct conflict with the equity doctrine on which the NHS was created. A brief conclusion how equity principles might be restored to health policy is proffered.

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