Improving Health Services
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Improving Health Services

Background, Method and Applications

Walter Holland

This insightful book describes how Health Services Research (HSR) can be developed and used to evaluate, advance and improve all aspects of health services. It demonstrates the need for good HSR to avoid the continuation or development of ineffective or cost-inefficient services.
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Chapter 3: Health and health services research in the United Kingdom: a historical review

Background, Method and Applications

Walter Holland


The introduction of scientific principles into Government decision-making really began with publication in 1918 of the Haldane Report and the Haldane Principle, a wide-ranging report on the machinery of Government after the First World War. Richard Haldane, First Viscount Haldane, was one of the most influential figures in British politics in the early twentieth century, serving as War Minister from 1905 to 1912 and Lord Chancellor from 1912 to 1915. Although his report considered the relationship between Government and research in general, this was not its main purpose. The report was commissioned to enquire into the responsibilities of the various departments of the Central Executive of Government and to advise on the manner in which these could best be exercised. In preparing his report, he made various recommendations, stressing the fundamental need for research: ‘Further provision is needed in the sphere of civil government for continuous acquisition of knowledge and the prosecution of research in order to furnish a proper basis for policy.’ Haldane believed that research should play a key role in Government and the report included two main proposals. The first was that: ‘In all departments, better provision should be made for enquiry, research and reflection before policy is defined and put into operation.’ Further, he stated: ‘Many departments must retain under their own control, a distinctive organisation for the prosecution of specific forms of research.

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