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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Part II - Hyper-active Governance in Practice

  • Matthew Wood, University of Sheffield
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • pp 67-190


This chapter looks empirically at the field of health technology assessment (HTA) and argues that it is possible to identify the ‘defence’ style of hyper-active governance posited in the previous chapter. HTA is the crucial expert policy area, involving deciding which drugs and other medical treatments are safe and cost-effective to be prescribed by a local doctor or hospital. HTA has been described by international organisations promoting its use as ‘the systematic evaluation of the properties and effects of a health technology, addressing the direct and intended effects of this technology, as well as its indirect and unintended consequences, and aimed mainly at informing decision making regarding health technologies’ ( It is a process for making delicate decisions about whether a country will fund a medicine, often based on variants of cost–benefit analysis. In this sense, HTA is a classic arena of expert governance: it is the attempt to turn highly emotive decisions about life and death – about who gets access to new potentially life saving drugs and medical treatments – into rational, evidence-based questions of medical science.