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Persuasion without numbers? Public policy and the justification of capital charging in NHS trust hospitals

Julie Froud (School of Accounting and Finance, University of Manchester, UK)
Colin Haslam (The Management School, Royal Holloway College, University of London, UK)
Sukhdev Johal (The Management School, Royal Holloway College, University of London, UK)
Jean Shaoul (School of Accounting and Finance, University of Manchester, UK)
Karel Williams (School of Accounting and Finance and The Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 1 March 1998

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Abstract

Using the example of capital charging in UK hospitals, this paper shows how new public policy initiatives are justified through forms of persuasion without numbers and can be challenged with empirics. A reading of official and academic texts shows how the official problem definition focuses on poor asset utilisation. Hospital accounts are then reworked to show that, although poor asset utilisation was never a major problem, the introduction of capital charges could disrupt service provision. The conclusion is that the operation of NHS hospitals should be understood in terms of distributive conflict, rather than inefficiency. Through practical demonstration, the authors of this article aim to encourage accounting researchers to use numbers to challenge public policy definitions.

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Citation

Froud, J., Haslam, C., Johal, S., Shaoul, J. and Williams, K. (1998), "Persuasion without numbers? Public policy and the justification of capital charging in NHS trust hospitals", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 99-125. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513579810207328

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited