The concept of chronic disease self-management programmes together with the emerging expert patient has not been widely studied in the context of heart disease. But many of our patients with chronic heart disease are already experts. The knowledge and experience held by the patient has been untapped as a healthcare resource. Research from Stanford1 has shown that lay people with chronic conditions – when given a detailed leader’s manual – can be as effective as professionals in managing their disease and its impact on their daily life. It has also been acknowledged in the report ‘The expert patient: a new approach to chronic disease management for the 21st Century’,2 which recommends action over a six-year period to introduce lay led self-management training programmes for patients with chronic diseases within the NHS in England. A pilot phase between 2001 and 2004 will evaluate local programmes; between 2004 and 2007, programmes will be mainstreamed within all NHS areas.