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Susan Fairley-Murray, Ben Hunter and Brian Salter Analysing the transnational provisioning of services in the social sector: the case of commercialisation of NHS services in China and India

This study addresses the contemporary attempts by public and private organisations to position the UK within a globalised commercial healthcare economy. It asks how this ambition is being realised in England and in two major ‘emerging economies’ perceived as potential areas of market growth, and considers the challenges and implications for public or state-owned healthcare, health training organisations and healthcare users.

Specifically we will examine recent UK government moves to insert institutions of a primarily tax-funded English National Health Service (NHS) and other related publicly-owned or quasi-public bodies as commercial actors in transnational service provisioning. Case studies from UK-India and UK-China healthcare provisioning will be employed to develop a contextualised understanding of this project, its meanings in partner countries, and the conditions under which it is evolving. The analysis will take into account the intersecting fields of healthcare provisioning: governance, financing, production, delivery of / access to healthcare facilities and services, and consumption. Key points of analysis will include the extent and nature of state activisms in these fields, actions and interactions of other organised interests, the background infrastructures and discursive environment, and what these tell us about related moral economies and social relations. The case of healthcare will thus also contribute to broader debates about transnational relationships and provisioning in the ‘social sector’, and the commercialisation of state entities in the contemporary scenario.

The proposed work is particularly timely in the context of Brexit and UK attempts to redefine its trading partners, and the related implications for migratory labour and transnational services provision. It also speaks to the concerns to understand the UK’s complex and fragmented health and social care system articulated in the ESRC theme ‘Innovations in Health and Social Care’, and to the renewed emphasis articulated by the ESRC funded Rebuilding Macroeconomics network on ‘asking and answering questions about economic issues affecting the real world and the people in it’.

This project is funded by ESRC, 2019-2022

Project status: Ongoing


Funding Body: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)


Period: September 2019 - September 2019