, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 295-300

Understanding the Role of “the Hidden Curriculum” in Resource Allocation—The Case of the UK NHS

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In this paper we want to briefly illustrate the ways in which technical, ethical and political judgements of various kinds are interwoven in the processes of healthcare decision-making in the UK. Drawing upon the research for the “Choices in Health Care” project we will borrow the notion of the hidden curriculum from education to illuminate the nature of resource allocation decision processes. In particular we will indicate some of the fundamental but largely hidden political factors in play in these processes and the importance of the inchoate and implicit notion of “NHS values” in shaping UK resource allocation policies. We suggest that these more diffuse, holistic and system level value judgements are both central to understanding priority setting and at the same time difficult to reduce or abstract out into lists of single values/principles.