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In responding to the UK government's market forces model, some National Health Service (NHS) managers have introduced private sector concepts such as ‘customer care’ and ‘total quality management’ (TQM). Private sector firms find that success of these techruques is dependent upon creating an internal marketing orientation across the entire organization. To determine how internal marketing is being applied, a comparative survey of UK service sector hs and NHS units was undertaken using a modified version of Parasuraman's SERVQUAL model. All respondents indicated existence of type 1, 2, 3 and 4 gaps in the internal customer management process within their organizations. Major influencers of service gaps include departments placing internal efficiency ahead of internal customers and insufficient understanding of internal customer requirements. The survey indicated that, in certain areas of managing service quality, the NHS is performing better than its private sector counterparts. Nevertheless, opportunity for enhancing service quality in the NHS is possible through improving the flow of dormation between departments, stronger orientation towards meeting customer needs, upgrading provision systems and changing intradepartmental culture. The constraint facing the NHS manager is the limited availability of resources. One solution is to allocate resources in relation to service priorities. A duectional planning matrix is presented as a tool for developing an optimum internal customer management strategy within an NHS unit.