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We invest more in health care than ever before, yet we are more anxious about doctors, hospitals, and the NHS in general. As perceptions of patients' rights have expanded, so has the transparency of the difficult choices that are routine. Government has become more critical of the NHS and the public less willing to wait for treatment.
Why does demand for health care consistently exceed supply and how should Government manage the problem? There is a danger that improved rights for the strong and articulate will ignore less visible, or unpopular interests. How should the rights of elderly patients, or children, or those with terminal illnesses be balanced? Who should decide: the government, doctors, NHS managers, citizens, or the courts? How should decision-makers be held accountable, and by whom? How should governance;regulate the NHS? As patients become 'consumers' of medical care, what choice do they have as to how, where, and when they will be treated; and should this include hospitals abroad?
This completely revised new edition puts patients' rights into their political, economic and managerial contexts. It considers the implications of the Bristol Inquiry and the rhetoric of patients as 'consumers' of care. In balancing the rights of individuals with those of the community as a whole, it deals with one of the most pressing problems in contemporary society.