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The regulatory state and the UK Labour Government's re-regulation of provision in the English National Health Service

By John Wright


Following its election in 1997, the UK Labour Government embarked upon a 10 year program of reform of the National Health Service (NHS). By 2005, Labour had doubled the NHS budget and dramatically transformed the shape of the Service. In England, a basic characteristic of the NHS is the organizational split between provider and commissioning agencies. In this article I argue that Labour's re-regulation of NHS provision is a coherent representation of the influence of the “regulatory state” in restructuring arrangements between government, market, and society. The article offers an account of the regulatory state based on a discussion of five key theses: The Audit Society, Regulation Inside Government, The New Regulatory State, The British Regulatory State, and Regulatory Capitalism. The article unfolds Labour's program of reform across themes common to these accounts: the division of labor between state and society, the division of labor within the state, the formalization of previously informal controls, and the development of meta-regulatory techniques of enforced self-regulation. It concludes that the key themes of the regulatory state are at work in Labour's transformation of NHS provision and it offers a discussion of the implications for both scholars of regulation and the UK and European health policy literature

Topics: H Social Sciences (General), HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1748-5991.2009.01065.x
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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