Research on the changing English National Health Service

Researchers from the School’s Department of Health Services Research and Policy have been undertaking research concerning the restructuring of the English NHS, which started under the previous government and continues under the UK’s current Coalition government.  This is a subject of keen interest in the UK, as it affects the efficiency, quality and equity of healthcare provided to NHS patients.

Completed work includes a series of investigations concerning  the policy of broadening the types of provider of healthcare to NHS patients to include organisations which are independent from the NHS; and also to encourage those organisations which remain in the NHS to increase their autonomy (that is, become what are called ‘NHS foundation trusts’). Together with colleagues at Bristol and Leeds Universities researchers at the School have been undertaking a series of studies funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) to examine the extent, nature and effects of increasing the diversity of providers.

As the financial climate becomes more constrained in England, and the policies promoting diversity of provision in the Coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 come into effect, further changes to the structures of the NHS will occur. Researchers in the Department of Health Services Research and Policy will be investigating these changes through their NIHR funded Policy Research Unit in Commissioning and the Healthcare System, a partnership between the School and the Universities of Manchester and Kent. (‘Commissioning’ is the planning and purchasing function in the NHS quasi market.) This unit works with the English Department of Health to inform the development of policy on commissioning, and how it can improve services and access, increase effectiveness and respond better to patient needs. For more information please visit

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