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“A Short Cut to Better Services”: A History of Day Surgery and Post-Operative Patient Care in the British National Health Service, c. 1950-2000

Cynthia Tang

Award: 2021 Post-Doctoral Fellow

This project will reconstruct the history of day/outpatient surgery in Britain and consider its adoption in the context of the 1990s National Health Service reforms. With the use of oral history interviews and archival material, it will explore the processes of policy-driven change in medical practice and analyze the types of expertise that are deemed to be relevant in healthcare policy decision-making. The project will also examine the studies that were performed to assess the new day surgery programs to better understand how patient care is impacted by policies aimed towards increasing medical efficiency. As Canadian healthcare increasingly transitions to the use of outpatient approaches as a strategy for decreasing long surgical wait times, a better understanding of their adoption and outcomes in other healthcare systems, such as the British NHS, will be instructive.