On Friday 27th April at 11 am in the Old Library at All Souls College, High Street Oxford I am giving an open lecture to answer this question.
I will examine the different ways the public and private sectors work together to deliver public services, and offer a new way of analysing services for their public and private sector components.
I will remind the audience that most of the UK railway is provided by the public sector, and a lot of our current health care both within and outside the NHS is delivered by the private sector. People value the free at the point of need main proposition of the NHS but worry less about who provided what within that. They accept drugs supplied by for profit companies retailed by private pharmacies and often prescribed by GPs working as independent contractors to the NHS. I will conclude that there is no such thing as a purely public sector service in a mixed economy like the UK, and argue that a lot of what the private sector does is also public service.