Beveridge or Bismarck? choosing the Nordic model in British healthcare policy 1997-2015
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Other TitlesThe Making and Circulation of Nodic Models, Ideas and Images
AbstractHistorical and social science literature has a long tradition of interest in the Nordic model and its permutations and developments. This chapter will make two straightforward and related claims. First, that ideas about the Nordic model circulated in British political circles in the period 1997 to 2010 in the field of healthcare, and second, that this Nordic model was a departure from the ‘traditional’ social democratic conception of Norden, instead of relying heavily on New Public Management ideas. It will substantiate this claim using a policy diffusion model to analyse think-tank reports, political speeches, and articles from the popular and business press. I will claim that a dual process of policy learning was taking place in the 2000s with a group of broadly social democratic think tanks and media figures engaging with Nordic countries on the one hand and a group of free-market think tanks, journalists and the Conservative Party looking to Central European examples, especially Germany, on the other hand. Labour’s use of the Nordic model should, therefore, be seen as a means to defend taxation-funded healthcare against policymakers arguing for the adoption of a social insurance system. What Labour policymakers created was, in historical terms, a distinctive and quite British conception of the Nordic model which emphasised marketising and privatising aspects of Nordic reform trajectories that were consistent with Labour’s policy platform for the NHS.
CitationHoctor T (2021) 'Beveridge or Bismarck? choosing the Nordic model in British healthcare policy 1997-2015', in Byrkjeflot H, Mjøset L, Mordhorst M, Petersen K (ed(s).). The Making and Circulation of Nodic Models, Ideas and Images, London: Routledge pp.209-229.
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