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Beyond NIMBYs and NOOMBYs: what can wind farm controversies teach us about public involvement in hospital closures?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number530
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

Abstract

Background
Many policymakers, researchers and commentators argue that hospital closures are necessary as health systems adapt to new technological and financial contexts, and as population health needs in developed countries shift. However closures are often unpopular with local communities. Previous research has characterised public opposition as an obstacle to change. Public opposition to the siting of wind farms, often described as NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard), is a useful comparator issue to the perceived NOOMBYism (Not Out Of My Back Yard) of hospital closure protestors.

Discussion
The analysis of public attitudes to wind farms has moved from a fairly crude characterisation of the ‘attitude-behaviour gap’ between publics who support the idea of wind energy, but oppose local wind farms, to empirical, often qualitative, studies of public perspectives. These have emphasised the complexity of public attitudes, and revealed some of the ‘rational’ concerns which lie beneath protests. Research has also explored processes of community engagement within the wind farm decision-making process, and the crucial role of trust between communities, authorities, and developers.

Summary
Drawing on what has been learnt from studies of opposition to wind farms, we suggest a range of questions and approaches to explore public perspectives on hospital closure more thoroughly. Understanding the range of public responses to service change is an important first step in resolving the practical dilemma of effecting health system transformation in a democratic fashion.

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