Emerging hybridity: Comparing UK healthcare regulatory arrangements

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Healthcare regulation is one means to address quality challenges in healthcare systems and is carried out using compliance, deterrence and/or improvement approaches. The four countries of the United Kingdom (UK) provide an opportunity to explore and compare different regulatory architecture and models. The aim of this paper is to understand emerging regulatory models and associated tensions.
This paper uses qualitative methods to compare the regulatory architecture and models. Data was collected from documents, including board papers, inspection guidelines and from 48 interviewees representing a cross-section of roles from six organisational regulatory agencies. The data was analysed thematically using an a priori coding framework developed from the literature.
The findings show that regulatory agencies in the four countries of the UK have different approaches and methods of delivering their missions. This study finds that new hybrid regulatory models are developing which use improvement support interventions in parallel with deterrence and compliance approaches. The analysis highlights that effective regulatory oversight of quality is contingent on the ability of regulatory agencies to balance their requirements to assure and improve care. Nevertheless, they face common tensions in sustaining the balance in their requirements connected to their roles, relationships and resources.

The paper shows through its comparison of UK regulatory agencies that the development and implementation of hybrid models is complex. The paper contributes to research by identifying three tensions related to hybrid regulatory models; roles, resources and relationships which need to be managed to sustain hybrid regulatory models.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Health, Organization and Management
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2017


  • Quality
  • Quality assurance
  • Hybridity
  • Compliance
  • Quality improvement
  • Regulation


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