Many liberals laud Europe’s government-run health care sectors as a model to emulate. In particular, Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) often is seen as the ideal single payer system. In reality, however, the British government itself does not supply all services.
A study from the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) describes the gradual trends towards increased NHS outsourcing.
The process of contracting out of NHS services started in 1983 but was effectively limited to catering, cleaning and facilities management until the NHS Plan in 2000…Since 2000, when the NHS Plan was launched by the Labour government, contracting out of services has expanded to include clinical services and pathology services. Later white papers have introduced competition into primary care and community health services.
Specifically, in 2000 the NHS created independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) to contract out various clinical services. The same year, pathology and high technology diagnostic services began begin contracted out to provide-sector providers as well.
Further, in 2008, NHS began the Patient Choice initiative through which patients are able to choose any provider (i.e., NHS, private, not for profit) they wish for elective care.
Just as the U.S. healthcare system is not exclusively run by the private sector, in Great Britain the NHS also does not provide 100% of the care British patients receive.