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NHS Inquiries and Investigations; an Exemplar in Peculiarity and Assumption

Ryan, Sara (2019) NHS Inquiries and Investigations; an Exemplar in Peculiarity and Assumption. Political Quarterly, 90 (2). pp. 224-228. ISSN 0032-3179

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Abstract

There is little research focussing on how bereaved families experience NHS inquiries andinvestigations. Despite this gap, there is a consistent assumption that these processes providefamilies with catharsis. Drawing on my personal experiences of NHS investigations over afive-year period after the death of our son, Connor Sparrowhawk, I suggest the assumptionof catharsis is misplaced and works to erase the considerable emotional ‘accountability’labour that families undertake during these processes. I further question whether inquiries orinvestigations are an effective way of holding stakeholders to account. I conclude with twopoints: first, qualitative research is needed to better understand bereaved family experiencesof inquiries and investigations and second, the ‘lessons learned’ objective underpinninginquiries should be replaced with ‘leading to demonstrable change’, which is what familiestypically want.

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