Public knowledge and activism in the UK’s national health services
Hospital closures have been a keystone of public engagement with the British NHS. This chapter explores ‘save our hospital’ campaigns through interviews with contemporary hospital campaigners in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Interviewees describe high-profile public events, such as protests, within longer-term projects to build evidence for and influence thinking about the future of local hospitals. It argues that both in their public campaigning work and in behind-the-scenes efforts to influence decision-making, campaigners are actively shaping cultural representations of what an NHS hospital should be. At stake in these processes is the future of a particular hospital, but also always and more fundamentally, how society should make its commitment to universal healthcare meaningful.