In my post yesterday on how resources are allocated I mentioned that in any system other than a market system there are bound to be shortages and surpluses. This morning courtesy of memeorandum there’s a story from the Daily Mail that illustrates my point nicely:
Thousands of women are having to give birth outside maternity wards because of a lack of midwives and hospital beds.
The lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk as births in locations ranging from lifts to toilets – even a caravan – went up 15 per cent last year to almost 4,000.
Health chiefs admit a lack of maternity beds is partly to blame for the crisis, with hundreds of women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they are full.
Most of those commenting on this story are using it as an illustration of the horrors of socialism but I don’t think that’s quite right. However well-intentioned there is no such thing as an allocation of resources by need in healthcare. The choices are fiat, the political process, or markets. Clearly, NHS planned wrong and the political process is being brought to bear to correct it.
The farther any system deviates from an efficient market system, the greater will be its tendency to produce shortages and surpluses. And that includes our system which, as I pointed out this morning, is not an efficient market system by any stretch of the imagination.