What do we want from a healthcare service? We certainly want health, and the service tries to maintain this through preventive treatments, vaccinations, and cancer screening. When our bodies go wrong we can sometimes restore them with curative treatments: antibiotics for infections, surgery for broken bones, chemotherapy for cancer (although, arguably, more effort should be directed upstream, tackling the causes of ill health). In many situations a return to health can’t be achieved, but what we can offer is care, to ease symptoms and to limit disability.The word “care” is sometimes used as though it’s an entirely impersonal activity—hence the phrase “episode of care” in medical management, which usually describes doing something to or for a patient. But patients need something more than to be passive recipients of a series of activities designed to keep them safe: they need to feel cared for, and cared about, in the ordinary meaning…