Repositioning the patient: patient organizations, consumerism, and autonomy in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s

Bull Hist Med. Summer 2013;87(2):225-49. doi: 10.1353/bhm.2013.0022.


This article explores how and why the patient came to be repositioned as a political actor within British health care during the 1960s and 1970s. Focusing on the role played by patient organizations, it is suggested that the repositioning of the patient needs to be seen in the light of growing demands for greater patient autonomy and the application of consumerist principles to health. Examining the activities of two patient groups-the National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital (NAWCH) and the Patients Association (PA)-indicates that while such groups undoubtedly placed more emphasis on individual autonomy, collective concerns did not entirely fall away. The voices of patients, as well as the patient, continued to matter within British health care.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Advocacy / history*
  • Consumer Advocacy / psychology
  • Delivery of Health Care / history
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • History, 20th Century
  • Patients / history*
  • Patients / psychology
  • Politics*
  • United Kingdom