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  1. Continuing Professional Development
Study at City

Health Policy in Britain CPPD

Key information

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Delivery of this module will be online due to government-issued guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic and may be made available face-to-face subject to Public Health England recommendations. Please submit your application and, once reviewed by the module leader, you will receive more specific information about the online delivery of your module and assessments.

Course overview

Why was the NHS created, and how has it evolved? How are decisions about health care in Britain made, by whom and in whose interests? What are the main challenges facing the NHS? Can it survive?

The last few decades have seen far-reaching changes in the way health care in Britain is organised, delivered and funded. Many factors - such as medical and technological advances, an ageing population, the growing prevalence of chronic disease, patient choice and rising public expectations - have put considerable strain on the National Health Service (NHS) and resulted in major upheaval and numerous reorganisations. Successive governments and policymakers have struggled to cope with the rapid and continuous change, and have often failed to resolve the highly emotive and politically charged debates and controversies surrounding health care.

This module provides a critical analysis of the development of health policy and the organisation and delivery of health services in Britain since the creation of the NHS in 1948, focussing particularly on more recent developments. It covers not only the content of health policy (what it aims to achieve), but also the process of policy making (how policies are developed, implemented and evaluated). It aims to identify the main social, economic and political influences that have shaped health policy in Britain, explores where decision making power lies, and evaluates attempts to improve quality and performance in the NHS. The module also considers the future prospects for the NHS and what health care in Britain might look like in the decades to come.

Content outline

Topics covered in this module will include:

  • Key stages in the history and evolution of the NHS since its inception, focusing particularly on developments after 1997.
  • Policy initiatives designed to improve performance in the NHS, and evidence of their effectiveness, including international comparisons.
  • Approaches to funding health services in Britain, including the increased use of market forces and private provision.
  • The challenges of resource allocation, priority-setting and rationing.
  • The politics of health: theories of how power is distributed within the NHS, and whose interests it serves; the role of political ideology in shaping differing conceptions of and responses to policy problems.
  • The influence on health and health policy of: the medical profession; business and industry; the media; pressure groups; social and demographic change; and other areas of public policy (such as agriculture and transport).
  • The ‘rediscovery’ of public health and initiatives to tackle health inequalities.
  • The policy making process at national and local level, including the relationship between national policy and local implementation.
  • The role of NHS and other bodies in managing, regulating and monitoring health services.
  • Differences in health policy and services between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland post-devolution.
  • Prospects for the future of the NHS as a universal, comprehensive service free at the point of delivery, and for health care in Britain.

Module dates

Term 2

JAN: Tuesday 19 and 26 January 2021
Tuesday 2,9 and 23 February 2021
Tuesday 2, 9,16 and 23 March 2021

Module Submission Date: 26 April 2021



Prerequisite knowledge

Non EEA students can only apply as part of a programme, not as a stand-alone module.

  • A good honours degree, second-class or equivalent
  • Experience of working in the health sector may be considered as equivalent to a good honours degree for suitable applicants.
  • In addition we consider applications from capable individuals who may not have prior experience of working within the health sector but have clear plans for a future career path in health policy.

English requirements

For those students whose first language is not English, the following qualification is also required:

  • IELTS: 7.0

Module leaders

  • Dr Justin Needle

    Justin joined City University London in 2006 and is currently Senior Lecturer in Health Services Research & Policy.

    Until 2012 he was co-director of City's Centre for Allied Health Professions (AHP) Research, which carried out research into policy, practice and workforce issues relating to the AHPs, and director of the ...