No government wants a provider of public services to fail. But as public services are opened up to more competitive pressures, it is likely that under performance will no longer be hidden and provider failure will then appear to occur more frequently. It is important that the possibility is not only considered but planned for.
Government and regulators will need to be able to recognise the early signs of organisations, systems or programmes at risk of failing. Policies will need to be based on decisions as to whether providers – public, private or not-for-profit – should be allowed to fail. If so, government will need to recognise that failure early on, as we discuss in this Pressure Points publication and ensure that public services continue to be provided to users and outcomes achieved. Where provider failure is unavoidable, quick and decisive action is critical to guarantee services for those that depend on them.