Balancing continuity of care and access to GP services a 'huge challenge', says RCGP

Publication date: 29 June 2018

Responding to research from the University of Exeter, published in BMJ Open today [Friday 29 June], Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Delivering continuity of care for patients is something GPs strive to do - we know our patients want and value it, as GPs do, and we know that it is particularly beneficial for patients with chronic conditions, long-term mental health issues, and complex needs.

"But general practice is currently facing intense resource and workforce pressures, which is making it increasingly difficult for patients to access our services and unfortunately, waiting to see 'their' GP means patients may have to wait even longer for an appointment. Some are willing to do this but often they cannot wait and seeing another GP or health professional in the practice team can speed up access in some situations.

"Many GP practices across the country are using innovative approaches to retaining continuity of care, for example, a patient might be assigned to a team consisting of several GPs and other healthcare professionals in the practice, all of whom will have full access to their records, allowing them to see and build trusting relationships with the whole team, not just 'their' doctor.

"Balancing continuity of care with timely access to GP services is a huge challenge for general practice, and ultimately the answer is more GPs and more resources for the profession.

"NHS England has already pledged £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020 - and this must be delivered to safeguard the future of general practice and patient care. The Prime Minister has also announced a significant amount of money for the NHS, and it is essential that the role of general practice in delivering quality care to over a million people a day and alleviating pressure on hospitals and other services, is recognised as more details of her long-term plan are released. Resilient general practice is essential to the long-term viability of our NHS and to the health of our nation."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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