Consuming Health

Edited by Saras Henderson and Alan
ISBN 0 415 25949 5

The concept of the consumer of health care
continues to grow in importance. Patients can choose to be treated
on the Continent, exercise influence through the soon-to-be-created
patients’ forums and have access to advocacy services.

This wide-ranging book contributes
perspectives on consumerism in health care from different
countries, and from sociology and psychology. While there has been
growth in consumer groups in health care and a new focus on
patients’ rights, has the balance of power and influence within the
health care system shifted significantly? Research into consumer
groups suggest that they are co-opted into the policy process to
offer a different and valuable perspective, but there has been
little shift from the established concordat between ministers,
Department of Health civil servants and the medical

The book shows how trends in modern medicine
militate against effective patient involvement in hospital care.
Good sociology strips away pretension. It looks at what is really
happening in social institutions. And it contains sufficient
material to encourage polite scepticism about some of the headier
rhetoric about empowering patients that trips so easily from
ministerial lips.

Terry Bamford is chairperson,
Kensington and Chelsea Primary Care Trust and a member of the
General Social Care Council.

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