This chapter explores aspects of doctor–patient encounters including patient choices and expectations, the financial implications of the patient–doctor encounter, and the doctor's evolving patient constituencies. It highlights the general practitioner's developing role as a gatekeeper who controlled access to benefits of various types. The chapter begins with a discussion of the likely options facing sufferers in what was an unusually open market for health care. Professional survival in a situation where registered doctors had little, if any intrinsic competitive advantage in recruiting patients, meant that doctors needed to work at improving their accessibility to potential patients, whilst at the same time broadening their social appeal through effective communication, or a good ‘bedside manner’.
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