The Australian Health Ethics Committee is concerned with the ethical implications of medical research and practice and of health care in general. One of the committee's major current interests is in the ethics of health care resource allocation. This is the second paper of a series on this topic.

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It is clear that we are now faced with hard choices about how we should allocate or distribute scarce health resources and services, and there is at present much discussion about the most cost efficient ways of rationing those resources. But there are also important ethical questions about, for example, the fairness or justice of various forms of rationing and about whether or not they respect the autonomy of patients and health care professionals.