Working the production line: productivity and professional identity in the emergency department

Moffatt, Fiona (2014) Working the production line: productivity and professional identity in the emergency department. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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In the UK the National Health Service (NHS) faces the challenge of securing £20 billion in savings by 2014. Improving healthcare productivity is identified by the state as essential to this endeavour, and critical to the long-term future of the NHS. However, healthcare productivity remains a contentious issue, with some criticizing the level of professional engagement.

This thesis explores how contemporary UK policy discourse constructs rights and responsibilities of healthcare professionals (HCPs) in terms of productive healthcare, how this is made manifest in practice, and the implications for professional autonomy/identity. Using analytical lenses from the sociology of professions, identity formation and the Foucauldian concept of governmentality, it is proposed that policy discourse calls for a new flavour of professionalism, one that recognises improving healthcare productivity as an individualised professional duty, not just for an elite cadre but for all healthcare professionals. Adopting an ethnographic approach (participant observation, semi-structured interviews, focus group and document analysis), data is presented from a large UK Emergency Department (ED), exploring the extent to which this notion of self-governance is evident. The study elucidates the ways in which: professional notions of productivity are constructed; productive work is enacted within the confines of the organisational setting; and tensions between modes of governance are negotiated.

The findings of this study suggest that HCPs perform identity work via their construction of a multidimensional notion of healthcare productivity that incorporates both occupational and organisational values. Whilst responsibility for productivity is accepted as a ‘new’ professional duty, certain ethical tensions are seen to arise once the lived reality of ‘productive’ work is explored within the organisational field. The complex interplay of identity work and identity regulation, influenced by the co-existence of two differing modes of governance, results in a professional identity which cannot be represented by a static occupational/organisational hybrid, but rather one that is characterised by continual change and reconstitution. Understanding healthcare productivity from this perspective has implications for professional education, patient care, service improvement design and the academic field of the sociology of professions.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Timmons, S.
Martin, P.A.
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WX Hospitals and other health facilities
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Item ID: 14355
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2014 10:41
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 21:50

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