Summary This study aims to contribute to evidence that can be used to establish a care pathway for the management of chronic neck pain across primary and secondary care. It defines the patient journey for people with chronic neck pain across a local health community, identifies components of that journey that complicate the management of chronic neck pain and identifies components that assist the management of chronic neck pain. The study explores the experiences of patients from a specified locality who suffer with chronic neck pain. The manner in which treatments have been offered, their effectiveness, the feelings patients have about these experiences and processes, and time lines are investigated. Data are taken from 10 transcribed taped interviews using a randomly selected cohort of participants from a larger convenience sample. This study suggests that the use of simple analgesics and physiotherapy in the earlier acute phases of neck pain should remain, but that acupuncture and specialist review of analgesics should be available in primary care. Orthopaedics does not appear to offer any benefits, but more complicated cases may require management from secondary care pain clinics. Further studies are required in order to investigate the validity of the proposed pathway.