The 'healthcare state' in transition: national and international contexts of changing professional governance

Ellen Kuhlmann, V Burau

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28 Citations (SciVal)


The building of a European nation challenges entrenched ties between the state and the professions. Yet, in relation to healthcare, European law is especially weak and professional power is particularly strong. Against this background, the present paper aims to map out the specific configurations of the changing governance of healthcare and the dynamics arising from intersecting contexts of change. We argue that the 'healthcare state' is strongly shaped by national regulatory frameworks, while the platform for the power of a self-regulatory medical profession is increasingly international in nature. Across countries managerialism and performance measures together with evidence-based medicine and clinical guidelines are meant to improve the accountability of professionals and the safety of the public. However, the new regulatory tools may also have the opposite effect and indeed serve as a means to reassert professional power; here, the heightened internationalization of healthcare even provides new opportunities. We use material from different countries gathered in a number of research projects to assess the changing governance of healthcare and its contexts. The paper concludes by highlighting the significance of both national regulatory frameworks and (international) professionalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-633
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Societies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


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