Event May 22nd: “The Ethics and Practice of Disinvestment: On Knowing What Not to Do in Health and Social Care”

We are delighted to announce a forthcoming event titled “The Ethics and Practice of Disinvestment:  On Knowing What Not to Do in Health and Social Care” .

 When: Wednesday May 22nd, 2019, 10:00-18:30.

 Where: Anatomy Museum, King’s Building, Strand Campus, King’s College London, London WC2R 2LS. Directions: The Anatomy Museum is located on Level 6 of the King’s Building. Access to the King’s Building is via the main entrance on the Strand. Please note: The Anatomy Museum is a different room from the Anatomy Lecture Theatre (also on the 6th floor, right next to the Anatomy Museum).


As new healthcare interventions continually become available and as pressures on healthcare systems across the world continue to mount, there is an increasing tension between the desire to rapidly adopt innovative health technologies in the name of medical progress and the need to ‘do more with less’ across the system as a whole. One way to relieve this tension is by ceasing to provide ineffective or ‘lower value’ interventions and services through a range of disinvestment policies (or, perhaps more frequently, ad hoc decisions). Recent years have thus seen an increase in such activity, both in the UK and elsewhere.

Such decisions inevitably create both winners and losers, as the interests of different groups are considered, weighed and ultimately prioritized. However, the ethical implications of such activities, though clearly wide-ranging, have historically received relatively little attention. This may be beginning to change, as research groups and practitioners from across the UK, and from across disciplinary boundaries, grapple with the practical and conceptual complexities associated with ‘negative’ prioritisation decisions via healthcare disinvestment, alongside the more often studied ‘positive’ prioritisation decisions made by bodies such as NICE.

This workshop seeks to bring together a diverse group of researchers and practitioners to consider and discuss what, if anything, makes disinvestment distinct from other forms of healthcare prioritisation and to identify potential ways forward to optimise disinvestment policies and approaches in the UK and elsewhere.


Dr Gry Wester (King’s College London)

Catherine Max (Catherine Max Consulting)

Vicky Charlton (King’s College London)

If you’d like to attend this event please email Dr Gry Wester: gry.wester@kcl.ac.uk

Workshop programme

10.00-10.30 Arrival and registration
10.30-10.45 Welcome Gry Wester and Catherine Max


10.45-12.45 Session 1: Current research: The practice of disinvestment

Chair: Gry Wester (King’s College London)

Jill Manthorpe (King’s College London): Disinvestment in social care

Janet Bouttell (University of Glasgow): Methods of disinvestment in healthcare


Iestyn Williams (University of Birmingham): Local decommissioning in the English NHS


Scott Greer (University of Michigan): Change for, with, or against the public: Three logics of service redesign across the UK


12.45-13.45 Lunch
13.45-15.30            Session 2: Is disinvestment ethically ‘special’?

Chair: Vicky Charlton (King’s College London)

Mark Sheehan (University of Oxford): The ethics of ‘grandfather clauses’ in healthcare resource allocation

James Wilson (University College London): How much ethical weight should be given to reasonable expectations?

Jim McManus (Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council): The ethics of doing least harm: managing health and care in an era of austerity



15.30-15.45 Coffee break
15.45 – 16.45 Session 3: Summing up and reflections

Courtney Davis (King’s College London): Review of day’s discussions

Catherine Max: Future research agenda

Participant comments and discussion

16.45-17.00 Closing remarks and next steps
17.00-18.30 Drinks reception

Confirmed attendees:


Gabriele Badano, University of York

Clare Coultas, King’s College London

Alan Cribb, King’s College London

Katherine Furman, University College Cork

Mark Gamsu, Leeds Beckett University

Susan Griffin, University of York

Vicky Hobart, Greater London Authority

Tom Irving, Dept of Health and Social Care

Dr Peter Jones, Bangor University

Selena Knight, King’s College London

Peter Littlejohns, King’s College London

Polly Mitchell, King’s College London

Katharina Orellana, King’s College London

Benedict Rumbold, University of Nottingham

Keith Syrrett, University of Bristol

Martin Utley, Clinical Operational Research Unit, University College London

Albert Weale, University College London

Wei Yang, King’s College London

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