This chapter explains the rise of patient ‘voice’ in the late 1990s, explores its multiple meanings and the implications that these had for organisations claiming to speak for the patient-consumer. The abolition of the CHCs in 2003 was indicative of a change in ideas not only about who was best placed to speak for patient-consumers, but also in the kinds of things that they were expected to say. More attention was to be paid to the voice of the individual patient rather than patients’ voices as a whole. Such a view fitted with the broader reform of the NHS that was directed towards a more marketised model with a tendency to see patients as individuals rather than as a group. Examining the ‘alphabet soup’ of organisations that replaced the CHCs suggests that despite growing attention, collective mechanisms for representing the patient-consumer were weakened. Individual voice began to be equated with greater individual choice, leaving less space for collective patient representation.
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