Marketisation, Ethics and Healthcare
Hordern J., Papanikitas A., Feiler T., Herring J., Petratos P., Epstein M., Frith L., Jani A., Walsh A., Misselbrook D., Kerasidou A.
The marketisation of Western healthcare systems has now proceeded well into its fourth decade. In continental Europe health services have been marketised by way of administrative reform; in England the 2012 Health and Social Care Act was widely perceived as another watershed moment in this process; and in the US the Affordable Care Act is again under critical scrutiny. For those who are critical of further marketisation, the battle has been either adjourned to future legislative periods or escalated into industrial action. Meanwhile, citizens’ critique is undergoing its own kind of marketisation as the ‘patient voice’ of ‘consumer-patients’, audible in both social media and government policy, often replaces older, local forms of representative citizens’ action. In this context the healthcare professions are facing various threats: the marketisation of the profession (everything is a “trade”), managerialisation (good professionalism as the excellent fulfilment of targets) and pluralisation (a profession is what you “make of it”). “Ethics” understood as a discipline dealing with individual, clinical decisions, is no doubt essential to the medical profession and curriculum here. But the discipline has also become separated from political economy and its structures. As one of the chapters will highlight, ethics itself has become a commodity for sale on the healthcare market. All of these developments cohere with and are fuelled by technological advances, digitalisation, and deregulation. Medical innovations such as personalised medicines are significant challenges for public healthcare systems, and some form of marketisation is often part of the response. However, the distinction between what is and what is not a market has become increasingly blurred amidst divergent discourses, policies and institutional structures. Hence the central problematic remains how to discern marketisation as a continuously developing phenomenon and concept that redefines moral formation, structures and action. This volume meets this demand and seeks to understand marketisation in action at three levels: the level of systems, that of concrete policies, and the level of those who make healthcare actually happen: doctors, nurses, therapists, carers and other healthcare workers. How does the market, in its various guises, affect healthcare? In a cross- and interdisciplinary effort we will a) highlight contrary interpretations of ‘marketisation’ on a systemic level, in particular with a view to organisational-ethical formation, b) explore the way it effects policy-making, connecting it to phenomena not usually discussed as a direct result of marketisation but with significant moral implications, and finally c) understand healthcare workers’ predicament in a marketised healthcare system, particularly with a view to identifying routes forward for compassionate care, the most prominent moral and ethical concern. To achieve that, the volume clearly demarcates the current fault lines of the debate, aiming for sharp clarity in a field of ambiguous diversity. At the systemic level, this will be done from the perspectives of business-economics, critical medical philosophy, law and organisational ethics. At the level of policy, the moral significance of marketisation will be illustratively explored through litigation avoidance, and the effect of health-economic encodings such as DRGs. The field of ethics for healthcare workers with regards to marketisation will be explored self-reflectively by looking at medical-ethical education, social and analytical philosophy, and virtue ethics. Each part of the book will follow a distinct format that seeks to unpack conceptually how marketisation works. First, it will juxtapose two divergent approaches. The significance of this juxtaposition will then emerge by looking at concrete examples, whether within the approaches offered or within a further chapter. Finally, a synthesising chapter will constructively summarise and creatively take forward the material covered in each part.