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Vulnerability and the Politics of CareTransdisciplinary Dialogues$
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Victoria Browne, Jason Danely, and Doerthe Rosenow

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266830

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266830.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Watchful Waiting: Temporalities of Crisis and Care in the UK National Health Service

Watchful Waiting: Temporalities of Crisis and Care in the UK National Health Service

(p.230) 11 Watchful Waiting: Temporalities of Crisis and Care in the UK National Health Service
Vulnerability and the Politics of Care

Lisa Baraitser

William Brook

British Academy

This paper opens up the relationship between vulnerability and the temporalities of care. It takes ‘care’ as not just a material practice that supports, manages and sustains vulnerable bodies, but as a temporal practice, one that produces time in situations that are otherwise felt to be stuck or ‘chronic’. It draws on some co-written anecdotes about the use of ‘watchful waiting’ by medical practitioners working in general practice in the UK’s National Health System (NHS) to think through the meanings of waiting in relation to chronic health and mental health crises. The offer of ‘watchful waiting’ as a response to ‘chronic crisis’ becomes a test case for understanding a more general condition of watchful waiting as a form of care, in a context in which waiting for healthcare has become an agony for many, experienced as a form of abandonment or a key sign of health service failure. The paper attempts to re-think ‘waiting times’ within a wider history of the temporalities of care, in order to elucidate the ways an offer of waiting can itself be understood as a response to vulnerability through a practice of staying with or alongside the chronic temporalities of others.

Keywords:   Vulnerability, temporality, waiting, care, crisis, mental health, general practice, NHS

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