PhD project: Prescribing and producing care: The social dynamics of NHS inpatient mental health services

This research is an anthropological study of the individuals and groups who deliver and receive care within an NHS mental health trust. It aims to better understand and analyse how interactions, processes and procedures coalesce to form the social infrastructures that underpin the experience and quality of care delivered within adult mental health inpatient services in the UK. 

This study will analyse the interactions and dynamics of decision-making and practices that compose the processes and procedures that shape, and are shaped by, a wide range of contexts and encounters. Matthew will combine theoretical and methodological approaches from social, medical and business anthropology practice with a mixed-methods approach that is underpinned by on-going participant observation through his own position of working in clinical and corporate settings. 

This study comes at a critical moment when there is a mental health crisis in the UK with reports of insufficient staffing nationwide and the threat of further austerity measures, which would limit or reduce services as well as potentially impact the socioeconomic stability and mental health of the wider general public. Challenging and refining our conceptions of successful care experiences and their composition is crucial for the sustainability of services and person-centred contemporary care. 

The outcomes of this work will make contributions to social and medical anthropology as well as the emerging literature on the anthropology of business. Matthew's hope is that this research on the ‘production of care’ at one of the UK’s largest mental health trusts will be of immediate benefit to the local communities accessing the services studied, and will help the NHS as a whole by applying an anthropological lens to the continuing development and improvement of mental health care and practice across the health professions


Dr Daniela Peluso
Dr Mike Poltorak

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