“privatisation has almost never had a positive effect on the quality of care”

Privatisation of healthcare results in a reduction in quality of care according to a review paper published this week (1 March 2024) in The Lancet. The study’s authors from the University of Oxford, concluded that: 

“At the very least, health-care privatisation has almost never had a positive effect on the quality of care.”

Adding that their review:

“provides evidence that challenges the justifications for healthcare privatisation and concludes that the scientific support for further privatisation of health-care services is weak.”

The published review looked at studies made of healthcare systems in eight high-income countries, where privatisation has been taking place over the past 40 years. Studies included those from the UK, USA, Canada, South Korea, Germany, Sweden, Croatia and Italy.

The review aimed to assess whether the often-stated aim of privatisation – to improve the quality of care through market competition – did indeed occur. Or, is the impact negligible, or in fact to worsen the quality of care due to the profit-driven nature of the organisations.

The study included longitudinal studies – those performed over time – which although small in number provided some of the most useful information. The researchers found a consistent picture of privatisation adversely affecting the quality of care. In these studies, they found that although outsourcing can reduce costs, this was at the expense of standards.

Full story in The Lowdown, 2 March 2024

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