Imagined in Policy, Inscribed on Bodies: Defending an Ethic of Compassion in a Political Context; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

Document Type : Commentary


School of Health Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK


In response to the International Journal of Health Policy and Management (IJHPM)editorial, this commentary adds to the debate about ethical dimensions of compassionate care in UK service provision. It acknowledges the importance of the original paper, and attempts to explore some of the issues that are raised in the context of nursing practice, research and education. It is argued that each of these fields of the profession are enacted in an escalating culture of corporatism, be that National Health Service (NHS) or university campus, and global neoliberalism. Post-structuralist ideas, notably those of Foucault, are borrowed to interrogate healthcare as discursive practice and disciplinary knowledge; where an understanding of the ways in which power and language operate is prominent. Historical and contemporary evidence of institutional and ideological degradation of sections of humanity, a ‘history of the present,’ serve as reminders of the import, and fragility, of ethical codes.


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