‘Reform’ of the British national health service after the election of a labour government: Understanding the policy development process

Timothy Wayne Strawderman, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The policy development process leading to the Labour government's white paper of December 1997—The new NHS: Modern, Dependable—is the focus of this project and the public policy development literature is used to aid in the understanding of this process. Policy makers who had been involved in the development of the white paper were interviewed in order to acquire a thorough understanding of who was involved in this process and how they produced the white paper. A theoretical framework is used that sorts policy development models into those that focus on knowledge and experience, and those which focus on politics and influence. This framework is central to understanding the evidence gathered from the individuals and associations that participated in this policy development process. The main research question to be asked in this project is to what extent do either of these sets of policy development models aid in understanding and explicating the process by which the Labour government's policies were developed. The interview evidence, along with published evidence, show that a clear pattern of policy change emerged from this policy development process, and the Knowledge-Experience and Politics-Influence policy making models both assist in understanding this process. The early stages of the policy development process were characterized as hierarchical and iterative, yet also very collaborative among those participating, with knowledge and experience being quite prevalent. At every point in the process, however, informal networks of political influence were used and noted to be quite prevalent by all of the individuals interviewed. The later stages of the process then became increasingly noninclusive, with decisions made by a select group of internal and external policy makers. These policy making models became an important tool with which to understand the policy development process. This Knowledge-Experience and Politics-Influence dichotomy of policy development models could therefore be useful in analyzing other types of policy development.

Subject Area

Public administration|Public health

Recommended Citation

Strawderman, Timothy Wayne, "‘Reform’ of the British national health service after the election of a labour government: Understanding the policy development process" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9981814.