Social work practice of hospital social workers under the structural adjustment program in Greece: social workers protecting the right to health care within the context of Neoliberalism

Maria Pentaraki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: This study explores the effects of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) and its resultant social spending cuts and austerity measures on social work practice in Greek public hospitals. THEORETICAL BASE: The research is informed by a critical social theory approach. METHODS: Qualitative interviews were conducted with eleven senior social workers. OUTCOMES: Data gathered from qualitative interviews in 2011 reveal that underfunding and understaffing causes workers to intensify their professional efforts and to increasingly draw on more informal contacts, as well as on their personal resources, to respond to the needs of service users. Health care spending cuts within the context of neoliberal capitalism clearly undermine participants’ ability to effectively perform their work, but they do the best they can with the available resources. Faced with an increasing inability to provide optimal care, participants reorient their focus to at least providing emotional support. A strong theme of resistance emerged, with participants insisting that health care is a right and not a commodity. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: The paper maintains that it is imperative for the social work profession to understand that the difficulties they experience emerge within the context of neoliberal capitalism and thus austerity measures and social spending cuts need to become a locus of intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-20
Number of pages14
JournalSocialni Prace
Volume2018
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2018

Keywords

  • Austerity
  • Greece
  • Health care as a right
  • Hospital social workers
  • Neoliberalism
  • Relationship based social work
  • Resistance
  • Social spending cuts
  • Social work
  • Structural Adjustment Program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology

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