The government of Morocco approved two reforms in 2005 to expand health insurance coverage. The first is a payroll-based mandatory health insurance plan for public-and formal private–sector employees to extend coverage from the current 16 percent of the population to 30 percent. The second creates a publicly financed fund to cover services for the poor. Both reforms aim to improve access to high-quality care and reduce disparities in access and financing between income groups and between rural and urban dwellers. In this paper we analyze these reforms: the pre-reform debate, benefits covered, financing, administration, and oversight. We also examine prospects and future challenges for implementing the reforms.
Rather than improving efficiency, the reforms imposed on the NHS have increased bureaucracy, reduced patient choice, limited the range of core services, and led to inequity of treatment. In this paper I examine how the medical profession might help to solve these problems. Priorities must be set for health care since no government can afford all the possibilities offered by medical science. It is essential to forge a consensus of patients, carers, professionals, the public, and government if a system of priorities is to be equitable and just. We also need to be able to measure quality of outcome in health care. This requires consensus on what is the desired outcome and the development of appropriate guidelines, audit, and performance review. This is primarily a task for the health professions supported by management and by adequate investment. Basically, the government must reinstate the three traditional values of the NHS--equity, consensus, and regard for representative professional advice.
Since 2002, adults have been able to choose oral health care services in the public sector or in the private sector in Finland. Though various subsidies for care exist in both sectors, the Public Dental Service (PDS) is a cheaper option for the patient but, on the other hand, there are no waiting lists for private care. The aim of this study was to assess middle-aged adults' use of dental services, willingness to pay (WTP) and ability to pay (ATP) for unexpected, urgent dental treatment.
Postal questionnaires on use of dental services were sent to a random sample of 1500 47-59 year old adults living in three large municipalities in the Helsinki region. The initial response rate was 65.8%. Two hypothetical scenarios were presented: "What would be the highest price you would be prepared to pay to have a lost filling replaced immediately, or, at the latest, the day after losing the filling?" and " How much could you pay for unexpected dental expenses at two weeks notice, if you suddenly needed more comprehensive treatment?" Logistic regression analysis was used to analyse factors related to WTP and ATP.
Most respondents (89.6%) had visited a dentist recently and a majority (76.1%) had used private services. For immediate replacement of a lost filling, almost all respondents (93.2%) were willing to pay the lower price charged in the PDS and 46.2% were willing to pay the private fee. High income and no subjective need for dental treatment were positively associated with the probability of paying a higher price. Most respondents (93.0%) were able to pay a low fee, EUR 50 and almost half (41.6%) at least EUR 300 for unexpected treatment at short notice. High income and male sex were associated with high ATP.
There was a strong and statistically significant relationship between income and WTP and ATP for urgent dental care, indicating that access to publicly provided services improved equity for persons with low income.
Utilization of dental services; Willingness to pay (WTP); Ability to pay (ATP); Public sector; Private sector
The World Health Report 2000 stated that increased public financing for healthcare was an integral part of the efforts to achieve equity of access. In 2009, the Chinese government launched a three-year health reform program to achieve equity of access. Through this reform program, the government intended to increase its investment in primary healthcare institutions (PHIs). However, reports about the outcome and the improvement of the equity of access have yet to be presented.
Stratified sampling was employed in this research. The samples used for the study comprised 34 community health service centers (CHSCs) and 92 township hospitals (THs) from six provinces of China. Collected data, which were publicly available, consisted of the total revenue, financial revenue, and the number of people for the periods covering January 2010 to September 2010 and January 2011 to September 2011. Revenue information for 2009 and 2010 was obtained from China’s Health Statistics Yearbook.
By using indicators such as government investment, government finance proportion and per capita revenue, t-tests for paired and independent samples were used to analyze the changes in government investment.
Government invest large amount of money to the primary healthcare institutions. Government finance proportion in 2008 was 18.2%. This percentage increased to 38.84% in 2011, indicating statistical significance (p = 0.000) between 2010 and 2011. The per capita financial input was 20.92 yuan in 2010 and 31.10 yuan in 2011. Compared with the figures from 2008 to 2010, the gap in different health sectors narrowed in 2011, and differences emerged. The government finance proportion in CHSCs revenue was 6.9% higher than that of THs, while the per capita revenue of CHSCs was higher. In 2011, the highest and lowest government finance proportions were 48.80% (Shaanxi) and 19.36% (Shandong), respectively. In that same year, the per capita revenue of Shaanxi (40.69 Yuan) was higher than that of Liaoning (28.79 Yuan). Comparing the 2011 figures with those from 2008 to 2010, the gap in 2011 clearly narrowed.
In the three-year health reform program, the Chinese government increased its investment to PHIs gradually and significantly. Thus promote equity to access and universal coverage. However, the increase in government investment stemmed from political desire and from the lack of institutionalization of practice and experience. Hence, a mode of financial allocation must be formulated to promote consistency in government input after the three-year health reform program.
Brazil and Colombia have pursued extensive reforms of their health care systems in the last couple of decades. The purported goals of such reforms were to improve access, increase efficiency and reduce health inequities. Notwithstanding their common goals, each country sought a very different pathway to achieve them. While Brazil attempted to reestablish a greater level of State control through a public national health system, Colombia embraced market competition under an employer-based social insurance scheme. This work thus aims to shed some light onto why they pursued divergent strategies and what that has meant in terms of health outcomes.
A critical review of the literature concerning equity frameworks, as well as the health care reforms in Brazil and Colombia was conducted. Then, the shortfall inequality values of crude mortality rate, infant mortality rate, under-five mortality rate, and life expectancy for the period 1960-2005 were calculated for both countries. Subsequently, bivariate and multivariate linear regression analyses were performed and controlled for possibly confounding factors.
When controlling for the underlying historical time trend, both countries appear to have experienced a deceleration of the pace of improvements in the years following the reforms, for all the variables analyzed. In the case of Colombia, some of the previous gains in under-five mortality rate and crude mortality rate were, in fact, reversed.
Neither reform seems to have had a decisive positive impact on the health outcomes analyzed for the defined time period of this research. This, in turn, may be a consequence of both internal characteristics of the respective reforms and external factors beyond the direct control of health reformers. Among the internal characteristics: underfunding, unbridled decentralization and inequitable access to care seem to have been the main constraints. Conversely, international economic adversities, high levels of rural and urban violence, along with entrenched income inequalities seem to have accounted for the highest burden among external factors.
Brazil; Colombia; health care reform; health care system; equity; health inequities; comparative analysis; health policy
The Australian federal government introduced private health insurance incentive policy reforms in 2000 that increased the uptake of private health insurance in Australia. There is currently a lack of evidence on the effect of the policy reforms on access to cardiovascular interventions in public and private hospitals in Australia. The aim was to investigate whether the increased private health insurance uptake influenced trends in emergency and elective coronary artery revascularisation procedures (CARPs) for private and public patients.
We included 34,423 incident CARPs from Western Australia during 1995-2008 in this study. Rates of emergency and elective CARPs were stratified for publicly and privately funded patients. The average annual percent change (AAPC) in trend was calculated before and after 2000 using joinpoint regression.
The rate of emergency CARPs, which were predominantly percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) with stenting, increased throughout the study period for both public and private patients (AAPC=12.9%, 95% CI=5.0,22.0 and 14.1%, 95% CI=9.8,18.6, respectively) with no significant difference in trends before and after policy implementation. The rate of elective PCIs with stenting from 2000 onwards remained relatively stable for public patients (AAPC=−6.0, 95% C= −16.9,6.4), but increased by 4.1% on average annually (95% CI=1.8,6.3) for private patients (pdifference=0.04 between groups). This rate increase for private patients was only seen in people aged over 65 years and people residing in high socioeconomic areas.
The private health insurance incentive policy reforms are a likely contributing factor in the shift in 2000 from public to privately-funded elective PCIs with stenting. These reforms as well as the increasing number of private hospitals may have been successful in increasing the availability of publicly-funded beds since 2000.
Health insurance; Coronary artery disease; Revascularisation procedures; Health policy
School-based health centers (SBHCs) provide a variety of health care services to youth in a convenient and accessible environment. Over the past 40 years, the growth of SBHCs evolved from various public health needs to the development of a specific collaborative model of care that is sensitive to the unique needs of children and youth, as well as to vulnerable populations facing significant barriers to access. The SBHC model of health care comprises of on-school site health care delivery by an interdisciplinary team of health professionals, which can include primary care and mental health clinicians. Research has demonstrated the SBHCs’ impacts on delivering preventive care, such as immunizations; managing chronic illnesses, such as asthma, obesity, and mental health conditions; providing reproductive health services for adolescents; and even improving youths’ academic performance. Although evaluation of the SBHC model of care has been complicated, results have thus far demonstrated increased access to care, improved health and education outcomes, and high levels of satisfaction. Despite their proven success, SBHCs have consistently faced challenges in securing adequate funding for operations and developing effective financial systems for billing and reimbursement. Implementation of health care reform (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [P.L. 111-148]) will profoundly affect the health care access and outcomes of children and youth, particularly vulnerable populations. The inclusion of funding for SBHCs in this legislation is momentous, as there continues to be increased demand and limited funding for affordable services. To better understand how this model of care has and could further help promote the health of our nation’s youth, a review is presented of the history and growth of SBHCs and the literature demonstrating their impacts. It may not be feasible for SBHCs to be established in every school campus in the country. However, the lessons learned from the synergy of the health and school settings have major implications for the delivery of care for all providers concerned with improving the health and well-being of children and adolescents.
Human resources are the most important assets of any health system, and health workforce problems have for decades limited the efficiency and quality of Latin America health systems. World Bank-led reforms aimed at increasing equity, efficiency, quality of care and user satisfaction did not attempt to resolve the human resources problems that had been identified in multiple health sector assessments. However, the two most important reform policies – decentralization and privatization – have had a negative impact on the conditions of employment and prompted opposition from organized professionals and unions. In several countries of the region, the workforce became the most important obstacle to successful reform.
This article is based on fieldwork and a review of the literature. It discusses the reasons that led health workers to oppose reform; the institutional and legal constraints to implementing reform as originally designed; the mismatch between the types of personnel needed for reform and the availability of professionals; the deficiencies of the reform implementation process; and the regulatory weaknesses of the region.
The discussion presents workforce strategies that the reforms could have included to achieve the intended goals, and the need to take into account the values and political realities of the countries. The authors suggest that autochthonous solutions are more likely to succeed than solutions imported from the outside.
In 2001, the New Zealand government introduced its Primary Health Care Strategy (PHCS), aimed at strengthening the role of primary health care, in order to improve health and to reduce inequalities in health. As part of the Strategy, new funding was provided to reduce the fees that patients pay when they use primary health care services in New Zealand, to improve access to services and to increase service use. In this article, we estimate the impact of the new funding on general practitioner and practice nurse visit fees paid by patients and on consultation rates. The analyses involved before-and-after monitoring of fees and consultation rates in a random sample of 99 general practices and covered the period from June 2001 (pre-Strategy) to mid-2005.
Fees fell particularly in Access (higher need, higher per capita funded) practices over time for doctor and nurse visits. Fees increased over time for many in Interim (lower need, lower per capita funded) practices, but they fell for patients aged 65 years and over as new funding was provided for this age group. There were increases in consultation rates across almost all age, funding model (Access or Interim), socio-demographic and ethnic groups. Increases were particularly high in Access practices.
The Strategy has resulted in lower fees for primary health care for many New Zealanders, and consultation rates have also increased over the past few years. However, fees have not fallen by as much as expected in government policy given the amount of extra public money spent since there are limited requirements for practices to reduce patients' fees in line with increases in public funding for primary care.
In the transition from a planned economy to a market-oriented economy, China’s state funding for health care declined and traditional coverage plans collapsed, leaving China’s poor exposed to potentially ruinous health care costs. In reforming health care for the 21st century, equity in health care financing has become a major policy goal. To assess progress towards this goal, this paper examines the equity characteristics of health care financing in a province of northwestern China, comparing the equity performance between urban and rural areas at two different points in time.
Analysis of whether health care financing contributions were progressive according to income were made using the Kakwani index for each of the four health care financing channels of general taxes, public and private health insurance, and out-of-pocket payments. Two rounds of surveys were conducted, the first in 2003 (13,619 individuals in 3946 households) and the second in 2008 (12,973 individuals in 3958 households). Household socio-economic, health care payment, and utilization information were recorded in household interviews.
Low-income households have undertaken a larger share of the health care financing burden in recent years, reflected by negative Kakwani indices, which indicate a regressive system. We found that the indices for general taxation were −0.0024 (urban) and −0.0281 (rural) in 2002, and −0.0177 (urban) and −0.0097 (rural) in 2007. Public health insurance presented different financing distributions in urban and rural areas (urban: 0.0742 in 2002, 0.0661 in 2007; rural: –0.0615 in 2002,–0.1436 in 2007.). Out-of-pocket payments were progressive but not equitable. Public health insurance coverage has expanded but financing equity has decreased.
Health care financing policies in China need ongoing reform. Given the inequity of general consumption taxes, elimination of these would improve financing equity considerably. Optimizing benefit packages in public health insurance is as important as expanding coverage, both for health care financing and for utilization management as well. Although they are progressive, out-of-pocket payments are not equitable in China and have the effect of excluding the poor from health care as they cannot afford to pay for medical care and so withdraw from treatment.
Equity; Chinese health care reform; Financing; Kakwani index
The Government of the Republic of Kenya is in the process of implementing health care reforms. However, poor knowledge about costs of health care services is perceived as a major obstacle towards evidence-based, effective and efficient health care reforms. Against this background, the Ministry of Health of Kenya in cooperation with its development partners conducted a comprehensive costing exercise and subsequently developed the Kenya Health Sector Costing Model in order to fill this data gap.
Based on standard methodology of costing of health care services in developing countries, standard questionnaires and analyses were employed in 207 health care facilities representing different trustees (e.g. Government, Faith Based/Nongovernmental, private-for-profit organisations), levels of care and regions (urban, rural). In addition, a total of 1369 patients were randomly selected and asked about their demand-sided costs. A standard step-down costing methodology was applied to calculate the costs per service unit and per diagnosis of the financial year 2006/2007.
The total costs of essential health care services in Kenya were calculated as 690 million Euros or 18.65 Euro per capita. 54% were incurred by public sector facilities, 17% by Faith Based and other Nongovernmental facilities and 23% in the private sector. Some 6% of the total cost is due to the overall administration provided directly by the Ministry and its decentralised organs. Around 37% of this cost is absorbed by salaries and 22% by drugs and medical supplies. Generally, costs of lower levels of care are lower than of higher levels, but health centres are an exemption. They have higher costs per service unit than district hospitals.
The results of this study signify that the costs of health care services are quite high compared with the Kenyan domestic product, but a major share are fixed costs so that an increasing coverage does not necessarily increase the health care costs proportionally. Instead, productivity will rise in particular in under-utilized private health care institutions. The results of this study also show that private-for-profit health care facilities are not only the luxurious providers catering exclusively for the rich but also play an important role in the service provision for the poorer population. The study findings also demonstrated a high degree of cost variability across private providers, suggesting differences in quality and efficiencies.
The Quebec health care system, founded in 1970 as a public, single payer, state run system had by 2004 reached a turning point. Rising costs, working in silos, difficulty accessing physicians, increased waiting time for diagnostic imaging and surgical intervention led policy makers and politicians to propose a new model for the organisation and delivery of care.
Based on populational responsibility and the clear distinction between a community primary care and specialised services a new model was proposed to develop integrated health networks. The 7.2 million population of Quebec was divided into 95 territories. 95 Health and social service centres were created by merging a community hospital, rehab centre, long-term care centres, home care and primary care services into a single institution with a new CEO and board of directors. These new networks received the mandate to manage the health and well being of their population, to manage the utilisation of services by their population and to manage all primary care services on their territory.
The implementation of a chronic care model, the development of primary care multidisciplinary teams, empowering the population and performance management, are the key elements of Montreal's vision in implementing the Reform.
After three years of operation the results are promising.
chronic care model; integrated health care networks; Canada
As part of its ongoing healthcare reform, the Hong Kong Government introduced
a voucher scheme, intended for encouraging older patients to use primary
healthcare services in the private sector, thereby, reducing burden on the
overwhelmed public sector. The voucher program is also considered one of the
strategies to further develop the public private partnership in healthcare,
a policy direction of high political priority as indicated in the Chief
Executive Policy Address in 2008-09. This study assessed whether the voucher
scheme, as implemented so far, has reached its intended goals, and how it
might be further improved in the context of public-private partnership.
This was a cross-sectional study using structured questionnaires by
face-to-face interviews with older people aged 70 or above in Hong Kong, the
target group of the demand-side voucher program.
71.2% of 1,026 older people were aware of the new voucher scheme but only
35.0% had ever used it. The majority of the older people used the vouchers
for acute curative services in the private sector (82.4%) and spent less on
preventive services. Despite the provision of vouchers valued US$30 per year
as an incentive to encourage the use of private primary care services, after
12-months of implementation, 66.2% of all respondents agreed with the
statement that "the voucher scheme does not change their health seeking
behaviours on seeing public or private healthcare professionals". The most
common reasons for no change in their behaviours included "I am used to
seeing doctors in the public system" and "The amount of the subsidy is too
low". Those who usually used a mix of public and private doctors and those
with better self-reported health condition compared to last year were more
likely to perceive a change in their own health seeking behaviours.
Our study showed that despite a reasonably high awareness of the voucher
scheme, its usage was low. The voucher alone was not enough to realize the
government's policy of greater use of the private primary care services.
Greater publicity and more variety of media promotion would increase
awareness but the effectiveness of vouchers in changing older people's
behaviour needs to be revisited. Designating vouchers for use of preventive
services with evidence-based practice could be considered. In addition to
the demand-side subsidies, improving transparency and comparability of
private services against the public sector might be necessary.
Increased access to health care, including addiction treatment, has long been a goal of health reform in the U.S. An unanswered question is whether reform will change the way people get to addiction treatment; when treatment is easily accessible, do individuals self-refer, or do they still enter treatment via ultimatums, and if so, from which sources? To begin examining this, we used a single case study of a U.S. health plan that provides access similar to that called for in health reform.
Using a case study method of data from studies conducted in a large, private non-profit, integrated managed care health plan which includes addiction services, we examined the prevalence and source of ultimatums to enter treatment, and the characteristics of those receiving them. The plan is highly representative of changes to U.S. health care and other countries due to health reform.
Many individuals entering addiction treatment had received an ultimatum stemming from employment, legal, medical, and family sources. Having more employment problems, an occupation with public safety concerns, being older, male, and ethnicity predicted an employment ultimatum. Higher legal problem severity predicted a legal ultimatum. More men (and younger people) had family ultimatums, and more women (and older people) had medical ultimatums. Being younger, male, married, having higher employment and family problem severity, and being drug or combined drug/alcohol dependent rather than dependent on alcohol-only predicted an ultimatum from one’s family. On the whole, an ultimatum from one source was not related to having one from another source. Those most likely to receive ultimatums from multiple sources were women, those separated/divorced, and those having higher psychiatric and legal problem severity.
Even in an insured population with good access to addiction treatment, individuals often receive ultimatums to enter treatment rather than being self-referred. Understanding the treatment entry process, and how it is affected by health care systems, could benefit from international and other comparative research.
alcohol and drug treatment systems; treatment entry; coercion
Uganda is proposing introduction of the National Health Insurance scheme (NHIS) in a phased manner with the view to obtaining additional funding for the health sector and promoting financial risk protection. In this paper, we have assessed the proposed NHIS from an equity perspective, exploring the extent to which NHIS would improve existing disparities in the health sector.
We reviewed the proposed design and other relevant documents that enhanced our understanding of contextual issues. We used the Kutzin and fair financing frameworks to critically assess the impact of NHIS on overall equity in financing in Uganda.
The introduction of NHIS is being proposed against the backdrop of inequalities in the distribution of health system inputs between rural and urban areas, different levels of care and geographic areas. In this assessment, we find that gradual implementation of NHIS will result in low coverage initially, which might pose a challenge for effective management of the scheme. The process for accreditation of service providers during the first phase is not explicit on how it will ensure that a two-tier service provision arrangement does not emerge to cater for different types of patients. If the proposed fee-for-service mechanism of reimbursing providers is pursued, utilisation patterns will determine how resources are allocated. This implies that equity in resource allocation will be determined by the distribution of accredited providers, and checks put in place to prohibit frivolous use. The current design does not explicitly mention how these two issues will be tackled. Lastly, there is no clarity on how the NHIS will fit into, and integrate within existing financing mechanisms.
Under the current NHIS design, the initial low coverage in the first years will inhibit optimal achievement of the important equity characteristics of pooling, cross-subsidisation and financial protection. Depending on the distribution of accredited providers and utilisation patterns, the NHIS could worsen existing disparities in access to services, given the fee-for-service reimbursement mechanisms currently proposed. Lastly, if equity in financing and resource allocation are not explicit objectives of the NHIS, it might inadvertently worsen the existing disparities in service provision.
Reforms involving the National Health Service (NHS) have greatly reduced the length of waiting lists in the United Kingdom. The key to the reductions was additional funding from the government, the chief executive of the NHS said during a recent visit to Ottawa. Decreasing the size of the waiting lists created intense stress for NHS personnel, who had to work longer hours, and it also lowered demand for private-sector care.
Signs of discontent with the health care system are growing. Calls for health care reform are largely motivated by the continued increase in health care costs and the large number of people without adequate health insurance. For the past 20 years, health care spending has risen at rates higher than the gross national product. As many as 35 million people are without health insurance. As proposals for health care reform are developed, it is useful to understand the roots of the cost problem. Causes of spiraling health care costs include "market failure" in the health care market, expansion in technology, excessive administrative costs, unnecessary care and defensive medicine, increased patient complexity, excess capacity within the health care system, and low productivity. Attempts to control costs, by the federal government for the Medicare program and then by the private sector, have to date been mostly unsuccessful. New proposals for health care reform are proliferating, and important changes in the health care system are likely.
Following a situation appraisal in 2001, a six year mental health reform programme (Egymen) 2002-7 was initiated by an Egyptian-Finnish bilateral aid project at the request of a former Egyptian minister of health, and the work was incorporated directly into the Ministry of Health and Population from 2007 onwards. This paper describes the aims, methodology and implementation of the mental health reforms and mental health policy in Egypt 2002-2009.
A multi-faceted and comprehensive programme which combined situation appraisal to inform planning; establishment of a health sector system for coordination, supervision and training of each level (national, governorate, district and primary care); development workshops; production of toolkits, development of guidelines and standards; encouragement of intersectoral liaison at each level; integration of mental health into health management systems; and dedicated efforts to improve forensic services, rehabilitation services, and child psychiatry services.
The project has achieved detailed situation appraisal, epidemiological needs assessment, inclusion of mental health into the health sector reform plans, and into the National Package of Essential Health Interventions, mental health masterplan (policy guidelines) to accompany the general health policy, updated Egyptian mental health legislation, Code of Practice, adaptation of the WHO primary care guidelines, primary care training, construction of a quality system of roles and responsibilities, availability of medicines at primary care level, public education about mental health, and a research programme to inform future developments. Intersectoral liaison with education, social welfare, police and prisons at national level is underway, but has not yet been established for governorate and district levels, nor mental health training for police, prison staff and teachers.
The bilateral collaboration programme initiated a reform programme which has been sustained beyond the end of the funding. The project has demonstrated the importance of using a multi-faceted and comprehensive programme to promote sustainable system change, key elements of which include a focus on the use of rapid appropriate treatment at primary care level, strengthening the referral system, interministerial and intersectoral liaison, rehabilitation, and media work to mobilize community engagement.
Alberta's abolition of its health regions and the creation of Alberta Health Services in 2008 has integrated previously disparate providers of healthcare services. The long-term benefits of this “second-wave” approach to health systems structuring include lower administrative costs, greater equity of access, improved intraprovincial learning and economies of scale. Some benefits have begun to be realized but, as with any merger, performance should be judged over a multi-year time frame.
California's drastic Medi-Cal reforms have created great difficulties in health care for the poor. Patients' clinical problems seldom are apparent in descriptions of changes in public insurance programs. Rapidly escalating costs of Medi-Cal led to irresistible pressures for reform, especially from the business community. The new Medi-Cal regulations provide for prospective contracts with hospitals for inpatient services, the transfer of “Medically Indigent Adults” to the responsibility of county governments and various other straightforward funding cutbacks. Confusion, disruption of services and adverse health outcomes have accompanied the Medi-Cal reforms.
Healthcare reform efforts include a push to limit copayments. The potential consequen ces suggest there may be better ways to remove access barriers and improve care delivery.
The healthcare reform debate has included discussion of some cost relief for patients by subsidizing their out-of-pocket costs. But employers and payers are looking at other options, such as linking the value of a healthcare intervention to its copayment, to try to improve health-care delivery and make its cost more equitable for all.
To investigate the importance of incorporating secondary care input to aid commissioning following National Health Service reforms which will see the replacement of Primary Care Trusts with Clinical Commissioning Groups; to determine barriers that might arise given that this issue had been raised during public consultations and to explore ways to improve this input.
Qualitative project with semistructured one-to-one interviews which were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic content analysis by two investigators. The findings were discussed and organized into a framework.
Bradford and Airedale, UK.
We interviewed 19 participants from primary care, the medical directorship and a range of specialties.
Main outcome measures
One-to-one semistructured interviews allowed a flexible dialogue to discuss planned questions and any other themes which participants brought up. This elicited a variety of experiences and ideas which provided the basis for in depth theoretical analysis required for our objectives.
There was an almost universal agreement that the integration of secondary care advice is important in commissioning. The main perceived barriers were obstacles to good communication and relationships, conflicts of interest and financial pressures. Participants suggested varied and innovative ways to improve communication and integration, and suggestions for organisations.
Our results support the importance of secondary care input and highlight communication, organisation and integration as three goals for organisations to work towards. Successful achievement of these objectives could have financial implications for organisations as well as benefits for patient care.
Núria Homedes and Antonio Ugalde discuss 25 years of reform to the Mexican health care system and argue that although costs and accessibility have increased, health inequities, efficiency, productivity, and quality of care have not improved.
Since the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, reform activities have targeted various spheres, including the health sector. Several international aid and UN organizations have been involved, as well as local and international non-governmental organizations, with considerable financial and technical investments. Although important achievements have been made, it is not evident that the quality of care has improved or that the most pressing health needs have been addressed, even before the second Palestinian Uprising that began in September 2000. The crisis of the Israeli re-invasion of Palestinian-controlled towns and villages since April 2002 and the attendant collapse of state structures and services have raised the problems to critical levels. This paper attempts to analyze some of the obstacles that have faced reform efforts. In our assessment, those include: ongoing conflict, frail Palestinian quasi-state structures and institutions, multiple and at times inappropriate donor policies and practices in the health sector, and a policy vacuum characterized by the absence of internal Palestinian debate on the type and direction of reform the country needs to take. In the face of all these considerations, it is important that reform efforts be flexible and consider realistically the political and economic contexts of the health system, rather than focus on mere narrow technical, managerial and financial solutions imported from the outside.
health sector reform; conflict; Occupied Palestinian Territories
This article considers some of the effects of health sector reform on human resources for health (HRH) in developing countries and countries in transition by examining the effect of fiscal reform and the introduction of decentralisation and market mechanisms to the health sector.
Fiscal reform results in pressure to measure the staff outputs of the health sector. Financial decentralisation often leads to hospitals becoming "corporatised" institutions, operating with business principles but remaining in the public sector. The introduction of market mechanisms often involves the formation of an internal market within the health sector and market testing of different functions with the private sector. This has immediate implications for the employment of health workers in the public sector, because the public sector may reduce its workforce if services are purchased from other sectors or may introduce more short-term and temporary employment contracts.
Decentralisation of budgets and administrative functions can affect the health sector, often in negative ways, by reducing resources available and confusing lines of accountability for health workers. Governance and regulation of health care, when delivered by both public and private providers, require new systems of regulation.
The increase in private sector provision has led health workers to move to the private sector. For those remaining in the public sector, there are often worsening working conditions, a lack of employment security and dismantling of collective bargaining agreements.
Human resource development is gradually being recognised as crucial to future reforms and the formulation of health policy. New information systems at local and regional level will be needed to collect data on human resources. New employment arrangements, strengthening organisational culture, training and continuing education will also be needed.