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The service concept: the missing link in our specialty’s development?
  1. Ian Higginson
  1. Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ian Higginson, Emergency Department, Derriford Hospital, Level 6, Plymouth PL6 8DH, UK; ian.higginson{at}

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If you, like me, find yourself correcting documents and colleagues every time they use the term casualty or A&E to describe your department, you will be pleased to know that you are not alone. If asked why you continue to do so, despite all the eyes turned to heaven, there may be a simple reason: it's all about quality. Let me explain.

In 2002, Goldstein et al1 described the service concept as “the foundation upon which the components of the service delivery system are built”. The service concept is a “shared understanding of the nature of the service provided and received”.2 It encompasses important themes such as the idea behind a service, how it will be delivered, the customer’s experience, the outcomes sought and value from the customer’s point of view. It, therefore, links operational, marketing and customer-focused ideas into a single picture, which can be used for strategic planning and service development.

The key thing about a service concept is that it is shared. This means that it is shared both within the organisation and with customers. It is different from an organisational or departmental …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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