In the pages of The Guardian Colin tells us the following:
But Monitor is tasked with creating a market in healthcare and faces the problem that making money out of acute (hospital-based) healthcare is very difficult unless the state stacks the cards in favour of profits. The main reason for this is that in most markets, making profits depends on innovative labour-saving technology, whereas providing good healthcare is unavoidably labour-intensive.
Yup, the old static technology fallacy. That acute care is today labour intensive means that it has been, is and always will be, labour intensive. This is the attitude of the mattock maker regarding the turnip weeding machine. The blast furnace operator looking at electric arc furnaces. The buggy whip maker considering car steering wheels.
For technology does change. Humanity advances by mechanising labour in fact. What was formerly labour intensive becomes capital such and off we go in a new round of getting ever wealthier.
And we also know that market based systems produce more of this innovation, this substitution of capital and machinery for labour, than planned economic systems. Precisely because market based systems are not constrained by idiots who think that technology is static. And this leads us to the actual reason why we are introducing markets in health care.
good healthcare is unavoidably labour-intensive.
good healthcare is currently labour-intensive.
And we’d prefer it not to be which is why we want that market as the best way to explore how it might be made less so.
Think about it. Two hundred years ago the treatment for a headache was a cool cloth wiped over the forehead by a comely maiden. Then some capitalist bastard invented aspirin and we’d mechanised the treatment of that particular problem. We’d made it less labour intensive and Hurrah!
How much of acute care we can mechanise is entirely unknown. Which is why we want the market, the experimentation, the incentives and the copying of what works that goes with market based systems.
Elderly socialist professor wrong. Now that’s a surprise, isn’t it?