Health professionals are urged to consult ‘patients’ about the quality of services and care. But different individuals who come into the category ‘patient’ can have markedly different levels and kinds of knowledge and experience, and can hold conflicting views. This paper looks at two sets of factors that contribute to making the patient side of health care puzzling or confusing. One is the ‘structure’ of the patient side of health care or the differentiation of knowledge and experience within it. The other is a radical/non-radical dimension that is probably independent of the ‘structure’. Comparisons between ‘patients’ and healthcare professionals can help clarify these points.
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