Government-backed healthcare is in 'turmoil' and private healthcare will see 'explosive growth' in the next decade, according to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Its study of six western European countries says 'it is becoming increasingly clear that public healthcare systems are no longer sustainable' because of the demands of an ageing population and rising expectations. 'All the signs point to a gradual decline of welfare systems over the coming decade and as a result. . . the public sector has no choice but to turn to the private sector for help, ' it claims. The six countries studied are the Netherlands, France, Germany, UK, Spain and Italy. The report acknowledges that all have introduced healthcare reforms, but say they face 'problems of bloated hospital infrastructures'.

The Prospects for Private Healthcare in Europe . Economist Intelligence Unit. 0171-830 1007.£775.