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Our influence on NHS reform

By Andy Mayer
June 14th, 2011 at 10:44 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in health, Spin

In May we made a prediction for the great health reform debate:

“If as expected it concludes with some ‘minor concessions well spun’, no one will be pleased. A thousand authors will claim the credit. The Conservative backbenchers have already starting highlighting their own influence.”

This was unfair. The spinning has been magisterial, a master-class in repackaging that has silenced or baffled most critics, whilst leaving what were quite modest reforms largely unchanged… only masked in complexity and rhetoric where previously there was a dangerous level of clarity.

For example, Monitor, the health service regulator, previously, was to encourage competition.

Now it will only do that if patients benefit… which is no change at all… competition tends to keep providers in check to the benefit of patients… monopoly does the opposite.

It will encourage integration, collaboration, and choice… all of these things exist in competitive markets.

If any of these objectives collide, it is really very simple… they will be integrated, competitively… or the regulator will encourage parties to choose to collaborate…  unless that involves competition… in which case an integrated patient benefit test will apply… or Monitor will choose from several competing tests… some requiring collaboration from other regulators… unless those are rationalised in order to encourage integration… in which case it will be passed back to the Secretary of State to choose… or collaborate with his colleagues… or pause for a genuine listening exercise… or flip a coin…

The regulatory governance of the NHS is now at least as comprehensible as that of the Liberal Democrat Federal Party.

Never let it be said we are not reshaping Britain in our own image.


How to introduce a minimum wage without raising unemployment

By Tom Papworth
June 2nd, 2011 at 1:54 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Economics, Uncategorized

Whenever discussions of the minimum wage come up, supporters of a legal price floor are quick to point out that the introduction of the minimum wage in the UK was not accompanied by rising unemployment, as economic theory would suggest.

What explains the labour market’s seeming resilience in the face of what should be a very bad policy?

Over at the IEA blog, I discuss three reasons why unemployment may have appeared to have been unaffected by the introduction of the minimum wage. Please take a look and feel free to comment on their discussion thread.