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Patient wants and needs

Having read the front-page comments in Pulse made by Dr Colin-Thome (May 3) I would like to say that in a way I agree with him. Politicians might know more about what people want from the health service because in order to be elected they have to please as many people as possible as often as possible. However, there is a big but to his comments.

I believe a major part of our job is to find out what patients need. This is not always what they want. It does not imply paternalistic imposition of what we think they need but part of the process is to seek patient views and explain everything in great depth.

As a result sometimes we have to provide what people want, but more often we are able to provide what they need. This is best for the patient and a more efficient use of health service resources rather than the continual use of funding for initiatives that appear to give people what they want but may actually deny them their needs.

Dr Jean Quinn

Department of Primary Care University of Liverpool

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