This chapter explores the concept and practice of teamwork and collaboration in health care delivery, including the importance of professionalism, professional identity and training. We consider how goals and values may vary according to one's profession, training and experiences, and team membership.
Modern twenty-first century health care delivery within developed countries is complex, often highly specialised and most commonly carried out by teams of health professionals. The professional workforce is diverse and the professions within it have many different roles and responsibilities. Their professional language also differs to some extent, the most notable example being in relation to the recipient of their care with nomenclature including patient, client, service user and even consumer. A patient, or client, is unlikely to interact with only one type of professional during what is now commonly referred to as the ‘patient journey’, i.e. a person's experience of and movement through the health care system during the course of an illness or condition. Patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, ischaemic heart disease and mental health problems, will consult with many different health and social care professionals, be referred between services and locations, and have to discuss their ideas and management many times. In 1999 a British study showed that patients with cancer interacted with 28 doctors during the first year after diagnosis (Smith et al. 1999), not counting the other health professionals involved in both primary and secondary care.