This alert was written by Edward Miller, Eugene Tillman, Cynthia O’Donoghue, and Leon Stephenson.

The arrival of the new UK Coalition Government has brought with it proposals to reform the health care system in the UK over the next four years, detailed in its much publicized White Paper “Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS”.

The stated objectives are ambitious and if instituted will have a far reaching effect on both the way the British public access the health system and the role of the private sector in UK health care. Although the White Paper does not go so far as to indicate that privatization of the NHS as such is being considered, the Government’s tone is bold in as much as it advocates public choice and recognizes that resultant competition must include third party private providers.

The key themes of the White Paper are based on choice for the patient, flexibility for the commissioning consortia, encouraging competition and social enterprise. This, within an ambitious four year timetable, indicates that there will be room for unprecedented private, for profit and non-profit and third sector involvement in the reform of the UK health care system.

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