Divided care and the Third Way: user involvement in statutory and voluntary sector cancer services

J.Q. Tritter, V. Barley, N. Daykin, S. Evans, Judith McNeill, James Rimmer, M. Sanidas, Pat Turton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In health care, as in much of the public sphere, the voluntary sector is playing an increasingly large role in the funding, provision and delivery of services and nowhere is this more apparent than in cancer care. Simultaneously the growth of privatisation, marketisation and consumerism has engendered a rise in the promotion of 'user involvement' in health care. These changes in the organisation and delivery of health care, in part inspired by the 'Third Way' and the promotion of public and citizen participation, are particularly apparent in the British National Health Service. This paper presents initial findings from a three-year study of user involvement in cancer services. Using both case study and survey data, we explore the variation in the definition, aims, usefulness and mechanisms for involving users in the evaluation and development of cancer services across three Health Authorities in South West England. The findings have important implications for understanding shifts in power, autonomy and responsibility between patients, carers, clinicians and health service managers. The absence of any common definition of user involvement or its purpose underlines the limited trust between the different actors in the system and highlights the potentially negative impact of a Third Way health service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-456
Number of pages28
JournalSociology of health and illness
Issue number5
Early online date18 Jun 2003
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003


  • cancer
  • Third Way
  • user involvement
  • voluntary sector
  • health care policy


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