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Tackling disinvestment in health care services

Williams, Iestyn and Robinson, Suzanne and Daniels, Thomas (2013) Tackling disinvestment in health care services. Journal of Health, Organization and Management. ISSN 1477-7266 (In Press)

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Rising levels of demand due to ageing populations and increases in long term conditions (White 2007), increased levels of expectation amongst patients and inflationary pressure caused by the rising cost of new technologies are amongst the explanations for the funding shortfalls in government funded health systems across the world (Newhouse 1992). The challenge facing these health systems has also been intensified by the worldwide economic downturn. Within health systems, efforts have been made to increase productivity and efficiency and to control costs without reducing quality (Garner and Littlejohns 2011) but the scale of the task necessitates further action (Donaldson et al. 2010). Beyond productivity and efficiency gains the next logical step for decision makers is disinvestment in cost-ineffective services, prioritisation of funding for one service over another or what Prasad (2012) refers to as ‘medical reversal’. The aims of this study were to explore the experiences of budget holders within the English National Health Service (NHS) in their attempts to implement programmes of disinvestment, and to consider factors which influence the success (or otherwise) of this activity. This paper begins with clarification of terminology and a summary of the current state of knowledge with regard to health service disinvestment, before presenting and discussing findings. The research suggests that disinvestment activity is varied across organisations and ranges from ‘invest to save’ schemes through to ‘true disinvestment.’ Although the majority of interviewees accept that disinvestment is necessary most had made little progress at the time of interview beyond ‘picking the low hanging fruit’. Interviewees identify a number of determinants of disinvestment such as: local/national relationships, co-ordination/ collaboration and; professional understanding and support.

Type of Work:Article
Date:10 January 2013 (Submission)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Health Services Management Centre
Subjects:H Social Sciences (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Emerald
ID Code:1311
Refereed:YES
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