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Unit information: Health Care Policies in 2015/16

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Unit name Health Care Policies
Unit code SPOL21018
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lart
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit starts with the idea of health as a policy issue: what do we mean by health, how can it be measured and how is health (or rather illhealth) distributed amongst different social groups? Why, after nearly 70 years of universal, free, health care in the UK, can we still see such clear differences in health between rich and poor, between ethnic groups and between geographical areas? Do health services actually make a difference, and if not, then what does?

The second part of the unit explores health services and health policy, looking at: the development of health policy in the UK, the delivery of health care, services for different users, and critical analysis of policy in this area. The NHS has always been a highly politicised area of policy, and never more so than at present. What are the challenges it faces, and the futures offered for it?

Some comparisons with other developed societies’ healthcare systems will be made - what are the alternatives to an NHS? Do these alternatives offer better solutions to current challenges?


This course aims to develop an understanding of the development of health policy, the role of health policy in the welfare system and how health policy integrates with wider social policy issues, and in particular an understanding of the relationship between health inequalities and the delivery of health care in Britain .

Intended Learning Outcomes

The key learning outcomes are follows. Students are expected:

  • To be able to discuss different meanings of ‘health’ , different measurements of health status and identify implications for health policy
  • To identify and discuss key differences in health experience relating to deprivation and social class, sex/gender, disability and ethnicity
  • To have a basic understanding of health policy in Britain – the key services, the organisational structure, funding mechanisms – and how these have developed over time
  • To be able to draw on different theoretical perspectives in discussion and critique of both health difference and policy

Teaching Information

Lectures and seminars

Assessment Information

Assessment will be against the programme criteria defined for the appropriate level. Formative assessment: One 2000- 2500 word essay Summative assessment : Level I - 3 000 word essay

Reading and References

  • Klein R (2013) The New Politics of the NHS: From Creation to Reinvention Radcliffe Publishing (7th edition)
  • Baggott, R (2015) Understanding Health Policy Policy Press: Bristol (2nd edition)
  • Greener, I, Harrington, B, Hunter, DJ, Mannion, R and Powell, M (2014) Reforming healthcare: What's the evidence? Policy Press: Bristol
  • Crinson, I (2009) Health Policy: a critical perspective Sage: London
  • Greener, I (2009) Healthcare in the UK: understanding continuity and change Policy Press: Bristol
  • Ham, C (2009) Health Policy in Britain Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke (6th edition).