Editorials

Getting health professionals to work together

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7241.1021 (Published 15 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1021

There's more to collaboration than simply working side by side

  1. Celia Davies, professor of health care
  1. School of Health and Social Welfare, Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

    Doctors and nurses work together every day. But is there more to working together than making sure that the work of the one profession dovetails with that of the other? Is there really any content in the “co” words, so popular in government policy documents—coordination, collaboration, and cooperation?

    Researchers are beginning to understand what working together can achieve. The settings are different—how work groups in the private sector can perform better, 1 how democracies can involve people more directly, 24 how conflict can be resolved5—but the message is the same. Working “together” rather than working “alongside” can energise people and result in new ways of tackling old problems. We have had glimpses of this in patient participation in the NHS. We know much more than we did even five years ago about giving lay people the support and information they need to have a meaningful dialogue with managers and clinicians and to make an input into how services are run. We need to encourage real …

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