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Realising 'joined-up' geography in the National Health Service: the role of geographical information systems?

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  • F800 Physical Geography And Environmental Sciences
  • Political Science


This paper focuses on the use of geographical information systems (GIS) within primary and secondary health care sectors in the United Kingdom in relation to wider notions of 'joined-up' government -- a key tenet of central government initiatives aimed at addressing problems such as social exclusion and polarisation. Drawing on findings from a national-level questionnaire survey, and follow-up semi-structured interviews with key respondents from the National Health Service (NHS), we have found that there has been an increase in GIS uptake within health organisations in the last decade. However, there has been limited collaboration between NHS organisations and local authorities on projects that utilise GIS. This lack of interorganisational activity is underpinned by the lack of a service-level agreement for digital data provision within NHS organisations, ambiguous understandings of data confidentiality requirements, and a limited awareness of the benefits of joined-up working arrangements. The paper concludes with a suggestion that significant organisational and cultural changes are required to facilitate enabling contexts for enhanced collaborative use of GIS between NHS organisations and local authorities, in order to support the wider joined-up government agenda currently being promoted in the United Kingdom.

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