Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 16(1) March 2003 : 112-140.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2003.16236
Research Leadership

Healthcare Restructuring with a View to Equity and Efficiency: Reflections on Unintended Consequences

M. Judith Lynam, Angela Henderson, Annette Browne, Vicki Smye, Pat Semeniuk, Connie Blue, Savitri Singh and Joan Anderson


This paper is developed from a research study that examined the hospitalization and helpseeking experiences of diverse ethnocultural populations in the era of healthcare restraint. Interview data were gathered from 60 patients while hospitalized and after their discharge home. Fifty-six healthcare professionals, the majority of whom were nurses caring for these patients while they were in hospital, were also interviewed. The data gathered in this study provides evidence to illustrate how restructuring associated with fiscal restraint, designed to enhance efficiencies while ensuring the provision of medically necessary services, has had unintended consequences for some groups of patients and for nurses. These consequences have created a context for inequities in care delivery for those most vulnerable. In this paper we trace the ways in which the changed context of care delivery has exerted its effects on both nurses and patients and illustrate how each has sought to bridge gaps created when organizational supports are lacking. Our study data offer insight into the complexities of the practice setting and difficulties that arise when resources cannot be mobilized to match patients' needs. Our analysis examines how tensions between ideologies of efficiency and accessibility are navigated at the front lines, and draws attention to unintended consequences of the current policy context.



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