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Cymraeg

Can Wales resist market healthcare?

13 December 2011

Group photo Web2Caption: (left to right) Dr Paul Walker, Public Health Association Cymru; Professor Gareth Williams, School of Social Sciences; Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales; Professor Allyson Pollock; Dr Julian Tudor Hart; Marie John, Department of Care Sciences, University of Glamorgan

Wales has not experienced the market-driven healthcare changes sweeping other parts of the world, including England.

Now a leading public health expert has delivered a University lecture saying that it is up to Wales and Scotland to set the example as the model makers and proponents of universal health care for the rest of the world.

Professor Allyson Pollock asked Can Wales resist the English onslaught of market driven health care? Her lecture was the sixth in the Julian Tudor Hart annual lecture series, aiming to engage the community in Wales in topical public health issues. The talk, in the Glamorgan Building, was attended by a number of senior figures with an interest in Welsh health provision, including Wales’ Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Jewell. Dr Tudor Hart, a leading figure in Welsh healthcare research, also attended.

Professor Pollock is Professor of Public Health Research and Policy at Queen Mary, University of London. In her lecture, she described how for the last 25 years, public health policy in many countries has been driven by theories of competition and markets. The most popular policies have included the substitution of competing commercial providers for publicly-run government units. Professor Pollock analysed how these solutions undermine universal health care provision and promote the misallocation of resources.

Professor Pollock stated that the challenge facing Wales is political. She said that the economic downturn is being used by politicians worldwide to justify the introduction of market-driven solutions, allowing the growth of "for profit" health industries. She called on Wales to forge its own destiny, rejecting market-oriented solutions and strengthening its public health structures and commitment to universal and comprehensive health care.

Professor Pollock set up and directed Centres for International Public Health Policy first at UCL then in Edinburgh and is now co director of Global Health, Innovation and Policy at the Centre for primary care and Public Health, Queen Mary, University of London. Her research interests include globalisation, privatisation and marketisation.