Regulating medicine in the UK: a matter of nudge or smudge?

Marty Chamberlain

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The regulation of the medical profession in the UK has undergone a period of far-reaching reform over the last four decades, with the traditional model of professional self-regulation arguably being replaced by a more multi-layered risk-based regulatory framework. These events being held by some as being symbolic of well-documented broader reforms in the governmentality of professional forms expertise as we move toward the socio-political conditions associated with high/post modernity within neoliberal democratic nation-states. Against this background, this paper details the findings of research examining two key reforms in the regulation of doctors in the UK: firstly, the introduction of periodic medical revalidation to ensure a doctor remains fit to practice in their chosen speciality, and secondly, reforms to medical tribunal processes when complaints are made about a doctor. In outlining its findings the paper explores if the shift towards risk-adverse governance models adequately captures the dynamic and situational nature of medical encounters between doctors and patients, and so, the everyday conditions through which medical competence and incompetence reveal themselves. The paper concludes by asking whether or not the reforms and findings it outlines are in indeed indicative of a health and social policy reform agenda which has ’nudged’ medical regulation toward being more concerned with protecting patients rather than doctors, or if they are simply the latest in a long line of ‘smudges’ designed to protect entrenched medical interests while promoting the public appearance of a reforming agenda. In doing so, the paper seeks to draw conclusions which it is hoped will be of some relevance to an international audience.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2016
EventIII ISA Forum of Sociology: The futures we want: global sociology and the struggles for a better world - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 10 Jul 201614 Jul 2016
Conference number: 3


ConferenceIII ISA Forum of Sociology
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