International responses to austerity

Document type
Literature review
Ellins, Jo; Moore, Steve; Lawrie, Michael
Health Foundation
Date of publication
1 September 2014
Evidence scan; no. 22
Health Services
Social welfare
Material type

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The scan aimed to provide evidence on austerity and health care from an international perspective. The project took a case study approach, gathering and analysing evidence for the following six countries: Canada, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. It found that:

  • Major changes, and in some cases significant cuts, are being made to health care without any programme to monitor or evaluate their impact
  • Short-term measures to control costs have been more prevalent than efforts at structural reform, yet are unlikely to be sustainable
  • Successful reform strategies are based on strong central leadership and constructive stakeholder dialogue and engagement
  • The case study countries provide some, limited, evidence about the impact of austerity measures on the costs and quality of care