‘Hospitals Must Close’: A four system comparison of policy for constructive conversations on controversial service changes

University of Edinburgh

  • Project led by the University of Edinburgh and supported by the Health Foundation’s Policy Challenge Fund. Due autumn 2016.
  • Aims to increase understanding of good policy and practice in closing hospitals in the four UK nations.
  • Will produce insight into a highly controversial subject area and will develop policy recommendations for more effective conversations on hospital closure in the future.

Closing hospitals is one of the most controversial and politicised decisions in health care. However, future closures may be necessary to implement sustainable and high quality care – for instance through new models described in the Five Year Forward View.

Public opposition is often a critical barrier in attempting to close a hospital, so how can policymakers have more constructive conversations with the public about such an inherently difficult and complex issue?

To answer this, the University of Edinburgh, supported by the Health Foundation’s Policy Challenge Fund, will analyse the policy and practice of previous hospital closures in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

The aims of the project are to:

  • identify how each country’s national policies currently propose how health care organisations can involve the public in decision-making on potential hospital closures
  • explore the recent history of these policies and how they are working in practice
  • make recommendations on the most effective policies and practices for engaging the public in a constructive way in closing hospitals.

Improving understanding of current policy and practice across the UK will create an opportunity for cross-border learning and reflection from the four separate health systems. The project is due to be completed in autumn 2016.

Contact details

For more information, please contact Dr Ellen Stewart, Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

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