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Title: The new NHS : an ethnographic case study of the role of professionals in policy reform
Author: Clegg Smith, Katherine
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2002
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The National Health Service (NHS) holds an esteemed position within Britain's `welfare state'. Since its inception, however, it has been subject to near constant reforms, seemingly intended to balance public expectations with available resources. Successive governments have required professional collaboration to gain crucial popular support, and increasingly, general practitioners have been prioritised within reform initiatives. Sociologists assert that professionals' reactions to reforms are often shaped by estimations of such reforms' influence on claims to professional status. Professionals react particularly defensively when they estimate that reforms challenge the foundation of status based on professional identity. Indeed, professions perceived as having `weaker' professional claims may engage more diligently with such defensive work, and general practitioners have been particularly virulent opponents to reforms. I spent eighteen months conducting ethnographic research into the role of GPs in the implementation of the reform initiative, ‘The New NHS: modern, dependable' (1997). I explored the translation of policy ideas into `real' working structures, seeking to address a gap in the literature between considerations of the formulation of official policy rhetoric and evaluations of reform effectiveness. Data revealed `clinical governance' and `delegation of authority to local professionals' as key concepts in shaping local reform implementation. In particular, official policy rhetoric outlined initiatives as unproblematic, whereas the data illustrated their complexity. Furthermore, contrary to expectation, interaction between GPs and the state was not overtly confrontational. Rather, local actors engaged multiple strategies seemingly intending to maintain locally formulated co-operation. Policy implementation was shaped more by efforts to protect existing local networks, than by professional efforts to defend against any one reform initiative. Professionals' engagement with policy objectives to protect their privileged status served to facilitate the operationalisation of ideas. The influence of particular local actors being such that they were often able to mould policies to serve their own agenda.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RA Public aspects of medicine