§ Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress he is making with his review of alternative means of financing health care.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
My Department is in the process of completing its studies of health care financing in other Western countries, which form the groundwork for consideration of what options there may be to improve health care financing and delivery in this country. In view of the advanced state of this work, I am now able to announce the formation of an interdepartmental working party which will consider, on the basis of these findings, a range of possible proposals for improvement. When this second stage of the review is completed, which I expect to be by the beginning of 1982, I and my colleagues will be in a better position to establish which if any of many possible approaches is likely to be of value here, and to select options for more detailed examination. I shall make a further statement about the progress of the review at that stage.
Officials will be assisted in their work by two specialist consultant advisers with experience of the private health sector in this country. The review will be based on the premise that an adequate standard of health care will continue to be provided for all, regardless of means, and will seek to keep the best in the present system while looking for new ways of tackling its weaknesses. Its key objective will be to identify means of improving health standards and giving greater weight to the wishes of the individual consumer but at the same time recognising the need to contain public expenditure and reduce taxation overall.
The issues involved are complex and of considerable public interest. There will be full consideration and discussion of any proposals which emerge but I believe that the aim of providing better health care for all the people of this country is one with which everyone will agree.