This chapter examines the development of new forms of general-practice-based diabetes management over the last quarter of the twentieth century. Although GPs had retained responsibility for ongoing patient care after 1948, the creation of the NHS consolidated the dominant role of the specialist clinic in post-war diabetes management. During the 1970s and 1980s, however, hospital clinicians and GPs began to devise more formal systems of structured and integrated diabetes care, with GPs assuming greater roles in disease management. For clinicians, deputing responsibilities to GPs offered a way to manage patient loads and increasing demands for surveillance in a context of constrained resources, and enabled consultants to refocus on challenging work. For GPs, new forms of care dovetailed with emerging professional projects connected with distinguishing GPs from hospital practitioners and moving GPs into team-based, proactive preventive health work. By the early 1990s, the Royal Colleges, the British Diabetic Association, the Department of Health, and international organisations all supported the increasing role of primary care practitioners in diabetes care. Medical politics, resource distribution, and epistemic change had once again combined to reshape approaches to diabetes management and reposition it as a form of long-term risk prevention.
The Epilogue sets the developments in diabetes management explored over the preceding six chapters against changes in chronic disease care more generally, and considers the story of British professional management in relation to international and present-day comparators. In so doing, it returns to themes and questions laid out in the Introduction, reflecting on diabetes’ historic position as a model chronic condition, considering the post-war changes in medical professionalism, and drawing out the connections between chronic disease and professional management in modern medicine. It concludes with a reflection on the relationship between historians and historical writing, and a consideration of future policy for diabetes care and health services management.
The Introduction sets the arguments of the book in historical and historiographical context. It argues that the predominant frameworks for assessing the emergence of managerial approaches to medicine, though insightful, have downplayed the central role of doctors and their organisations in co-constructing new systems and relationships in partnership with the central British state. Thus, whilst acknowledging that professional management was underpinned and driven by a broader set of technological, cultural, social, and political changes, the Introduction nonetheless suggests that the work of elite and academic practitioners was central to constructing managed medicine. Similarly, it proposes that, though possessing peculiarities, diabetes care’s historical status as a ‘model’ of healthcare management makes it a productive lens through which to reassess the history of managed medicine in Britain, and to explore the connections between chronic disease management and professional management. It concludes by outlining the power of a single-disease, single-country study for generating useful insights for future comparative work.
This chapter explores how managerial medicine emerged as government policy during the 1980s and early 1990s. Institutionally, it argues that a new consensus around guidelines and audit systems was founded upon post-war policy networks connecting senior British diabetologists, government bodies, and international organisations. Personnel continuities between committees ensured agreement across local, national, and international levels. Conceptually and politically, by contrast, it locates government interest in a growing influence of neoliberal political analyses on policy-making, and in attempts to control costs and make healthcare operate more like a market. Although professional and governmental projects were often politically misaligned, both parties saw benefits in co-operation and actively sought collaboration. Diabetes management – and chronic disease management more broadly – lay at the centre of new initiatives due to cost implications, cross-institutional reach, and the well-developed managerial and policy-making architectures that had been developed over the past three decades. Such conditions made long-term diseases like diabetes ideal constructs on which to pilot new forms of work.
This chapter explores the formal emergence of local systems of managed diabetes care, and situates them in relation to tools used to integrate hospital clinics and primary care into shared care arrangements. The respatialisation of care in the 1970s and 1980s, together with a growing emphasis on surveillance and blood glucose control, raised questions about how patient care could be effectively co-ordinated. In response, GPs and specialists drew upon a rich culture of regulatory bureaucracy within British medicine and mobilised a combination of tools – from recall systems and medical records to local care protocols – to regulate the timing, nature and content of medical engagements. These tools embodied an increasingly standard view of ‘good diabetes care’, and inherently ordered medical labour. The implicit politics of these instruments, however, became explicit within in a context of mounting political and professional concerns about professional competence, and in relation to concerns about the deputation of care to previously inexperienced practitioners. Especially once practitioners began to use standards to audit care, this ‘technology of quality’ subjected routine practice to a novel form of bureaucratic management and provided new forms of evidence for later national initiatives.
Through a study of diabetes care in post-war Britain, this book is the first historical monograph to explore the emergence of managed medicine within the National Health Service. Much of the extant literature has cast the development of systems for structuring and reviewing clinical care as either a political imposition in pursuit of cost control or a professional reaction to state pressure. By contrast, Managing Diabetes, Managing Medicine argues that managerial medicine was a co-constructed venture between profession and state. Despite possessing diverse motives – and though clearly influenced by post-war Britain’s rapid political, technological, economic, and cultural changes – general practitioners (GPs), hospital specialists, national professional and patient bodies, a range of British government agencies, and influential international organisations were all integral to the creation of managerial systems in Britain. By focusing on changes within the management of a single disease at the forefront of broader developments, this book ties together innovations across varied sites at different scales of change, from the very local programmes of single towns to the debates of specialists and professional leaders in international fora. Drawing on a broad range of archival materials, published journals, and medical textbooks, as well as newspapers and oral histories, Managing Diabetes, Managing Medicine not only develops fresh insights into the history of managed healthcare, but also contributes to histories of the NHS, medical professionalism, and post-war government more broadly.
This chapter outlines how diabetes re-emerged as a concern of central government during the late 1970s, setting the scene for the move of managed care from clinical settings to policy arenas. It does so by examining the tribulations of efforts to secure Department for Health and Social Security funding for retinopathy screening and photocoagulation treatment trials between 1977 and 1985. The trials were by no means the biggest intervention that central government made into diabetes care during the 1970s and 1980s. Examining their history, however, reveals the ways in which post-war policy networks developed in relation to diabetes, and the shifting ways in which they framed diabetes to garner government attention in a period of considerable economic and political change. Crucially, underpinning debates about the trials were new concepts of risk management, disease prevention, and standard-setting that became central to policy discussions of diabetes care and managed medicine at the end of the century.
The concluding chapter brings together the preceding themes and links them to show how the British vaccination programme changed from the 1940s to the 2010s. It examines how these changes can give an insight into the deeper relationship between the public and the public health authorities that purport to act on their behalf. It argues that the relationship between the two was not entirely top-down. Public action – either directly expressed or inferred through various surveillance and governance structures – was a key driving force behind policy changes and initiatives. The longer view of vaccination policy, including periods of relative calm as well as crisis, shows how this relationship changed over time and was inextricably linked to wider political concerns. The chapter argues that twenty-first-century crises such as the measles outbreaks in North America and Europe in the 2010s are also historically contingent. Whether disease or vaccination rates are “too high” or “too low” is based on contemporary conceptions of risk, health citizenship and our relationship to public health authorities.
This chapter uses the diphtheria programme of the 1950s to explore the theme of apathy in British vaccination policy. Following the success of the war-time immunisation campaign in reducing morbidity and mortality from diphtheria, there was a sharp decline in take-up at the end of the 1940s. The Ministry of Health attributed this to apathy among the public – particularly mothers who no longer feared diphtheria because it was no longer common. However, this interpretation required a view of the public as both ignorant of health risks and amenable to education. Furthermore, it made assumptions about the responsibility of parents to protect their children even though vaccination was not compulsory. Diphtheria immunisation recovered, and the disease was virtually eliminated by the early 1960s – but not necessarily because of the Ministry’s centralised propaganda. Local medical officers made significant efforts to make immunisation more convenient, including through the provision of multi-dose vaccines to reduce clinic visits and offer protection against diseases that parents were more fearful of.
This chapter introduces the historiography of the British welfare state, vaccination and public health, and sets out the book’s structure. It argues that while much attention has been given to the various controversies in British vaccination policy, this obscures the long periods of relative calm. Even during crises, most parents continued to vaccinate their children with individual vaccines and, overall, take-up has increased markedly since the 1940s. The chapter therefore reframes the debate to ask why vaccination became normalised during the post-war period, and draws attention to the role of the public as a receiver and forger of public health priorities. This question is then explored through the following five chapters, examining five key themes – apathy, nation, demand, risk and hesitancy. The first three themes are covered in Part I of the book, showing how the modern vaccination programme became established. Part II details the pertussis and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine crises and how they exposed the limits of public support for vaccination and the welfare state.