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NHS Reforms and the Working Lives of Midwives and Physiotherapists


  • Frank Wilkinson
  • Anna Bullock
  • Brendan Burchell
  • Suzanne J. Konzelmann
  • Roy Maneklow


From 2000 the NHS was subjected to a series of far reaching reforms, the purposes of which were to increase the role of the primary care sector in commissioning and providing services, promote healthier life styles, reduce health inequality, and improve service standards. These were seen as requiring a greater leadership role from health professionals, closer and more cooperative working between health professionals, and between health professionals, social services, and community and other service providers. The project surveyed a random sample of midwives and physiotherapists to investigate their perceptions of the effectiveness of the reforms, and their effects on working lives. The predominant perception was that NHS reforms had negatively affected the funding of their services; and had done little to improve service quality, delivery or organisation. Although the potential existed for the reforms to improve services, the necessary resources and required staffing were not made available and the objectives of the reforms were only partially secured by intensifying of work. The downside of this was a deterioration of the socio-psychological wellbeing of midwives and physiotherapists, especially the former, exacerbating the shortage of skilled and experienced. Shortage of staff and the associated increased work burdens were demoralising and demotivating; morale and job satisfaction declined, and job insecurity and labour turnover increased.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Wilkinson & Anna Bullock & Brendan Burchell & Suzanne J. Konzelmann & Roy Maneklow, 2007. "NHS Reforms and the Working Lives of Midwives and Physiotherapists," Working Papers wp344, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp344
    Note: PRO-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Broadbent, Jane & Laughlin, Richard, 1997. "Contracts and Competition? A Reflection on the Nature and Effects of Recent Legislation on Modes of Control in Schools," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(2), pages 277-290, March.
    2. Leland, Hayne E, 1979. "Quacks, Lemons, and Licensing: A Theory of Minimum Quality Standards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1328-1346, December.
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    More about this item


    Professional work; midwives; physiotherapists; Britain; public sector reforms; job satisfaction and morale;

    JEL classification:

    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • L84 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Personal, Professional, and Business Services

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