Health service accounting reforms are frequently promoted, explained or justified with reference to ageing populations, expensive medical technologies and their purported implications for the cost of health care. Drawing on Foucault’s genealogical method, we examine the emergence of concerns regarding health expenditure in the wake of the creation of the British National Health Service in 1948, and their relationship with health service accounting practices. We argue that concerns regarding the cost of health care are historically contingent rather than inescapable consequences of demographic and technological change, and that health service accounting practices are both constitutive and reflective of such concerns. We conclude by relating our analysis to current attempts to control costs and increase efficiency in the health services.
Bibliographical note© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
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