Health inequalities in England, Scotland and Wales: stakeholders' accounts and policy compared

Harrington, Barbara, Smith, Kat, Hunter, David J., Marks, Linda, Blackman, Tim, McKee, Lorna, Greene, Alex, Elliott, Eva and Williams, Gareth (2009) Health inequalities in England, Scotland and Wales: stakeholders' accounts and policy compared. Public Health, 123 (1). e24-e28. ISSN 0033-3506

[img]
Preview
PDF (Pre-print version)
UKPHA2008paper-9__2_.pdf - Submitted Version

Download (90kB) | Preview
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2008.10.010

Abstract

Objectives
The election of a Labour government in 1997 brought the issue of health inequalities firmly back on to the policy agenda across the UK. Since then, in the wake of devolution, the need to tackle health inequalities has been highlighted as a policy priority in all three mainland UK countries, albeit with varying degrees of emphasis. This paper reports on a major cross-national study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, investigating how National Health Service bodies, local councils and partnerships make sense of their work on health inequalities, and examining the difference made by the contrasting approaches that have been taken to performance assessment in England, Wales and Scotland.

Study design
Case studies, semi-structured interviews and analysis of key policy statements.

Methods
In order to explore how health inequalities have been approached by the three governments (noting that there was a change in governments in Wales and Scotland during this time), key policy statements published between May 1997 and May 2007 were analysed. Concurrently, data from stakeholder interviews carried out in 2006 in case study areas in each country were analysed to determine the extent of alignment between policy and practice at local level.

Results
This paper suggests that claims about the extent of health policy divergence in post-devolution Britain may have been exaggerated. It finds that, whilst the three countries have taken differing approaches to performance assessment and the setting of targets, policy approaches to health inequalities up until 2007 appear to have been remarkably similar. Furthermore, the first round of interview data suggest that variations in local understandings of, and responses to, health inequalities cannot always be clearly distinguished along national lines.

Conclusions
Based on the policy analysis, devolution in the UK does not appear to have resulted in substantively different national policy approaches to health inequalities. Indeed, the overall analysis suggests that (prior to the 2007 elections in Scotland and Wales) the differences between local areas within countries may be of as much interest as those between countries.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: health policy, performance assessment, UK
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
L400 Social Policy
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > School of Health, Community and Education Studies > Public Health and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2012 15:22
Last Modified: 15 May 2017 10:48
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/8274

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics


Policies: NRL Policies | NRL University Deposit Policy | NRL Deposit Licence