Rounding, work intensification and new public management

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In this study, we argue that contemporary nursing care has been overtaken by new public management strategies aimed at curtailing budgets in the public hospital sector in Australia. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 15 nurses from one public acute hospital with supporting documentary evidence, we demonstrate what happens to nursing work when management imposes rounding as a risk reduction strategy. In the case study outlined rounding was introduced across all wards in response to missed care, which in turn arose as a result of work intensification produced by efficiency, productivity, effectiveness and accountability demands. Rounding is a commercially sponsored practice consistent with new public management. Our study illustrates the impact that new public management strategies such as rounding have on how nurses work, both in terms of work intensity and in who controls their labour.

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