This paper addresses a need that the Policy Futures for UK Health project identified for ethical debate alongside all the complex developments that are usually highlighted in futures analyses of health. Part of the Policy futures for UK health - Pathfinder Technical Series.
In this paper, Martyn Evans introduces the characteristics of ethical analysis and some of the main approaches to ethics, before examining some of the ethical debates taking place in health today that are likely to influence the future. His paper highlights the competing values that are played out in modern health debates. Chief among them is the tension between individual choice and collectivism or collective welfare, which are to be found in many conflicts and debates - for example, in reproductive technology, debates concerning the end of life, and in tackling inequalities in health.
The paper raises questions for the future about who takes responsibility for health, the moral importance of health policies such as reducing health inequalities, and the preferences for moral values that lie at the heart of health policy.
Evans M (1999) Ethics. Reconciling conflicting values in health policy. Briefing. Policy futures for UK health - Pathfinder Technical Series No 9. Nuffield Trust.