Pricing in the English NHS quasi market: a national study of the allocation of financial risk through contracts

Abstract

The paper investigated how the formal national provisions for pricing in the National Health Service (which are a form of prospective payment, known as ‘Payment by Results’) are operationalized at local level. Transactions costs theory and existing evidence predict that actual practice often does not comply with contractual rules. A national study of pricing between 2011 and 2015 confirms this and indicates that such payment systems may not be appropriate to address the current financial and organizational challenges facing the NHS. As the NHS struggles radically to reconfigure services, it is necessary to reconsider the appropriateness of a wider range of pricing mechanisms to facilitate moving care out of hospitals.

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