• health care;
  • professional practice;
  • qualitative understanding


The increasing complexity of contemporary health care policy and practice leads us to ask questions about what might constitute ‘the good health care practitioner’. Yet, attempts through empirical work to address such questions are sparse. This paper reports on a small-scale qualitative study, which sought to explore questions with a number of health care professionals and academics about the nature of ‘the good practitioner’. Four themes emerged from our exploration and analysis: the difficulty in trying to talk about ‘the good practitioner’, the importance of systems and contexts in understanding this area, the place of consultation and diagnosis in conceptions of ‘good practice’ and ‘the good practitioner’, and the dissembling of the elusive idea of the ‘practitioner who is good’ into a more realistic idea of constituent ‘good practices’. We draw conclusions from our work and suggest a way forward.