Rationing or priority setting occurs in all health care systems. Doctors, managers and politicians are involved in making decisions on how to use scarce resources and which groups and patients should receive priority. These decisions may be informed by the results of medical research and cost effectiveness studies but they also involve the use of judgement and experience. Consequently, priority setting involves ethics as well as economics and decisions on who should live and who should die remain controversial and contested. This book seeks to illuminate the debate on priority setting by drawing on experience from around the world. The authors are all involved in priority setting, either as decision makers or researchers, and their contributions demonstrate in practical terms how different countries and disciplines are approaching the allocation of resources between competing claims. Accessible to general readers as well as specialists, "The Global Challenge of Health Care Rationing" summarizes the latest thinking in this area and provides a unique resource for those searching for a guide through the maze.
Angela Coulter is Director of Policy and Development at the King's Fund in London. Chris Ham is Professor of health policy and management at the University of Birmingham and Director of the Health Services Management Centre.