There is a rapidly growing number of patients; associations relating to a specific medical condition or illness (such as multiple sclerosis or motor neurone disease) but they have received little academic attention. Bruce Wood has surveyed over 200 of these associations in each of the USA and the UK. They have been marginalized in accounts of health policy and services yet collectively they are "big business". They perceive themselves as being non-political support groups but they actually participate in much activity that is political. "Patient Power" asks: are these economically efficient and politically effective bodies?; is the US "business" or the UK "volunteer" model more successful?; are they truly independent organizations or have they been "colonized" by the big vested interests in health?; are they a signal of a more assertive patient or consumer?; and do they actually influence what health care people receive?. This is a ground-breaking study in health policy and management, and should be important reading for scholars, students and professionals and, in particular, for those involved in running patient organizations.
Bruce Wood has been in the Department of Government at Manchester University since 1968, and is currently Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies. His previous books have been on the 1974 reforms of local government, on public policy-working in Britain, and on the regulation of doctors in the UK, USA and Germany. He chaired a health authority from 1989-1996 and serves on the board of his local hospice.