British National Health Service trust chief executives on nurse education: corporate instrumentalism and doubts on quasi-market structure


  • John Humphreys MSc MEd

    1. Head of School, School of Post Compulsory Education and Training, University of Greenwich, Avery Hill Road, London SE9 2HB, England
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The funding of nurse education through Working Paper 10 arrangements is susceptible to analysis as a‘quasi-market’in which regional purchasers (in England) commission education and training services on behalf of National Health Service (NHS) trusts In this context, some regions have developed ways of managing the demand side of the market in such a way as to enable NHS trust involvement in purchasing decisions, sometimes through consortium configurations This paper reports the findings of an empirical study of the views of NHS trust chief executives on nurse education The investigation was conducted to provide the information base for a consortium development reported earlier in the Journal of Advanced Nursing The consensus views of chief executives revealed an ideological stance, referred to as corporate instrumentalism This was shown to be derived from the position of trusts as newly corporate organizations undergoing considerable change in a volatile and competitive environment Education was seen as potentially capable of contributing significantly to both health service quality and organizational change Chief executives described an ideal of collaboration in which college providers are highly responsive to their needs, but doubted that the current quasi-market arrangements can in fact deliver this A comparison of chief executive and senior executive nurse views revealed some significant differences of emphasis, and a mechanism is provisionally suggested by which educational innovation could be suppressed Finally the education quasi-market was analysed in terms of both its implications for the professional status of nurses and its potential to facilitate NHS reform