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A sociology of public responses to hospital change and closure.

Authors
  • Stewart, Ellen1
  • 1 Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Sociology of health & illness
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2019
Volume
41
Issue
7
Pages
1251–1269
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.12896
PMID: 30963595
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The "problem" of public resistance to hospital closure is a recurring trope in health policy debates around the world. Recent papers have argued that when it comes to major change to hospitals, "the public" cannot be persuaded by clinical evidence, and that mechanisms of public involvement are ill-equipped to reconcile opposition with management desire for radical change. This paper presents data from in-depth qualitative case studies of three hospital change processes in Scotland's National Health Service, including interviews with 44 members of the public. Informed by sociological accounts of both hospitals and publics as heterogeneous, shifting entities, I explore how hospitals play meaningful roles within their communities. I identify community responses to change proposals which go beyond simple opposition, including evading, engaging with and acquiescing to changes. Explicating both hospitals and the publics they serve as complex social phenomena strengthens the case for policy and practice to prioritise dialogic processes of engagement. It also demonstrates the continuing value of careful, empirical research into public perspectives on contentious healthcare issues in the context of everyday life. © 2019 The Author. Sociology of Health & Illness published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for SHIL.

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