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Soundbites and patient centred care

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 14 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:605
  1. Paul Dieppe, director,
  2. Rob Horne, director
  1. MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol
  2. Centre for Health Care Research, University of Brighton

    Former prime minister Harold Macmillan famously once said, “You've never had it so good,” thereby inventing a classic soundbite. It could be argued that health care has never had it so good—we are enjoying access to an unprecedented range of powerful and effective means of combating disease and illness; we are living longer, healthier lives; and spending on health care has never been so high. However, expectations have risen faster than improved healthcare delivery, which has resulted in major political and financial pressures on the NHS, and mounting public dissatisfaction. There is concern, too, that health professionals remain too aloof, paternalistic, and controlling to suit the needs of their patients. We need more “patient centred health care,” it is claimed.

    The simplicity of the soundbite may obscure the complexity of the issue

    The government has responded actively to this concern. Over the past few years it has introduced several high profile initiatives designed to give patients more control over their health care, …

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