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Scandals in health-care: Their impact on health policy and nursing

Hutchison, Jacqueline S.


Jacqueline S. Hutchison


Through an analysis of several high-profile scandals in health care in the UK, this article discusses the nature of scandal and its impact on policy reform. The nursing profession is compared to social work and medicine, which have also undergone considerable examination and change as a result of scandals. The author draws on reports from public inquiries from 1945-2013 to form the basis of the discussion about policy responses following scandals in health care. In each case, the nature of the scandal, the public and government discourses generated by events, and the policy response to those failings are explored. These scandals are compared to the recent scandal at Mid Staffordshire Hospital. Conclusions are drawn about the impact of these events on the future of the profession and on health policy directions. Recent events have raised public anxieties about caring practices in nursing. Health policy reform driven by scandal may obscure the effect of under resourcing in health services and poses a very real threat to the continued support for state run services. Understanding the socially constructed nature of scandal, enables the nurse to develop a greater critical awareness of policy contexts in order that they can influence health service reform.


Hutchison, J. S. (2016). Scandals in health-care: Their impact on health policy and nursing. Nursing Inquiry, 23(1), 32-41.

Acceptance Date May 3, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 19, 2015
Publication Date 2016-03
Deposit Date Oct 2, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Nursing inquiry
Print ISSN 1320-7881
Electronic ISSN 1440-1800
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 32-41
Keywords Scandal, Health policy, Nursing, Public enquiries, Francis, Patient experience, Blame, Social construction
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Hutchison JS. Nursing Inquiry 2016; 23: 32–41 Scandals in health-care: their impact on health policy and nursing, which has been published in final form at 10.1111/nin.12115. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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