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Title: New public management and nursing relationships in the NHS
Author: Hoyle, Louise P.
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2011
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Western governments face increasing demands to achieve both cost efficiency and responsiveness in their public services leading to radical and challenging transformations. Following the imposition of New Public Management (NPM) approaches within England, it is argued that similar elements of NPM can be also seen within Scottish healthcare, despite policy divergences following devolution. This thesis considers the influence of NPM on Scottish hospital frontline nursing staff in their work. It explores the ways in which managerial practices (specifically professional management; discipline & parsimony; standard setting & performance measurement; and consumerism) have shaped the working relationships, interactions, and knowledge-exchange between managers, staff and patients and the ability of staff to carry out nursing duties within an acute hospital setting. The study is a qualitative interpretivist study grounded in the methodology of adaptive theory and draws upon the works of Lipsky (1980) in order to explore how the front-line nurses cope with and resist the demands of the workplace. Based on thirty-one qualitative interviews with front-line nursing staff in an inner city hospital in Scotland, this thesis presents the findings resulting from nurses’ views of management, finances, policies, targets, audits and consumerism. The findings show that these nurses believe there has been a proliferation of targets, audits and policies, an increasing emphasis on cost efficiency and effectiveness, a drive for professional management and a greater focus on consumerism in NHS Scotland. These are all closely linked to the ethos of NPM. From the findings it can be seen that many elements influence the working relationships of the frontline hospital nursing staff. The study suggests that the main reason for conflict between managers and nursing staff is due to their differing foci. Managers are seen to concentrate on issues of targets, audits and budgets with little thought given to the impact these decisions will have on patient care or nurses’ working conditions. Furthermore the findings highlight high levels of micro-management, self-surveillance, control and the regulation of the frontline nursing staff which has led to tensions both between nursing staff and managers, but also with patients and the public. Finally, although there has supposedly been policy divergence between Scotland and England, this thesis has identified many similarities between Scottish and English polices and NPM approaches continues to influence the working relationships of front-line nursing staff within this study despite the rhetoric that Scotland has moved away from such practices.
Supervisor: Ferguson, Iain; McIntosh, Ian Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: New Public Management ; Nursing ; Street-level Bureaucracy ; National Health Service in Scotland ; Public administration Scotland