How European governments are privatising our health care. Α new IAHPE book


Europe’s Health for Sale: the heavy cost of privatisation

Edited by John Lister

Libri Press, £19.95,


Book Launch

Thursday June 23, 5.30pm

Ellen Terry Building, Coventry University

Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5RW.


David Cameron keeps insisting that Andrew Lansley’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill does not mean privatisation of health services.

But this new collection of articles from a number of European countries points to the covert methods that are increasingly being used to do just that, though the development of competitive market systems.

Markets are a more expensive way to organise health care. They are less efficient, less equitable, and less accountable to the wider public than planned, publicly-funded systems, and can be more expensive: all of the evidence confirms this view.  

So why are marketising reforms continuing, even in the midst of today’s a dramatic onslaught on public sector spending? Taking examples from Britain, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Spain and elsewhere, Europe’s Health for Sale sets out to explain why profitable services are being contracted out – and other services put at risk – by the expansion of the private sector.

It shows that the attraction of this type of market reform for private sector providers is that it funnels generous profits from the public purse and social insurance into the hands of private companies.

The papers were presented at a 2009 conference of the International Association of Health Policy in Europe, hosted at Coventry University: but the issues are just as relevant and immediate today.

Chapters on elderly care and mental health underline the negative impact on quality and equity of services. And chapters on media coverage show that the lack of specialist training in health journalism, and the dumbing-down of much reporting and thinning out of newrooms in press and broadcast media leave the public unaware of the changes taking place, and exposed to skilled manipulation by the wealthy PR departments of drug companies and the private sector.

Editor John Lister, a veteran health campaigner who now also teaches health journalism at Coventry University, said:

“The notion of conspiracy is sometimes exaggerated: but this book shows a concerted drive by a number of governments along similar lines, sponsoring a new private sector which can only exist because of public funding.

“Since these studies were written, even more countries have followed down similar paths.

Europe’s Health for Sale aims to put fresh arguments and evidence in the hands of those who are challenging and resisting similar policies around the world.”

The book is to be launched on June 23, in the middle of the first major European Conference on Health Journalism, which is being held in Coventry University on June 23-24.

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