Maverick Conservative former trust chair John Spiers has argued the NHS is the 'last failed nationalised industry' in a book published by right- wing think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. The decision to remove the price mechanism and 'stifle competition' have created 'the classic conditions for scarcity', Mr Spiers argues, claiming this shows up in nurse shortages, waiting lists, lack of access to expensive drugs and poor cancer survival rates. His solution is to give the assets of the NHS 'back to local communities' and force them to compete for funds 'held in the hands of individuals'.

The Realities of Rationing: priority setting in the NHS. The Institute of Economic Affairs, 2 Lord Street, London SW1P 3LB.£7.