Our new publication Delivering hospital services: A greater role for the private sector? examines the role and contribution of the private provision of hospital services (both for-profit and non-profit) in the European Union. The report maps the extent of private provision across Europe, examines the drivers for increased private provision, describes how it takes place and presents the views of different stakeholders.
The past 10 years have seen an increase in private for-profit hospitals and their number of beds in most Member States. This increase in for-profit provision has taken place in the context of a decrease in the number of public hospitals and the number of their beds. Policies that favour the role of private providers and which aim to diminish the role of the public sector tend to have, as their rationale, gains in efficiency and a reduction in public expenditure and waiting lists in public hospitals.
The report found no conclusive evidence on which type of hospital is more efficient, and no clear relationship was found between the type of hospital ownership and the quality of care provided. However, some of the studies analysed did highlight the influence of staff and work processes on technical efficiency; and offering fewer types of treatment than public hospitals allows private hospitals to standardise processes more efficiently.