Continuity of care is highly valued by GPs – College responds to new study

Dr Victoria Tzortziou-Brown, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, appears in today’s BBC News and Mail Online responding to the latest study on the importance of continuity of care in general practice. Dr Tzortziou-Brown said:

“Continuity of care is highly valued by GPs and patients alike - particularly those patients with complex health needs. It allows us to build trusting relationships with our patients, and this study highlights it has benefits for patients and the wider NHS.

“But delivering continuity of care is becoming increasingly difficult as GPs and our teams struggle with intense workforce pressures and patient need growing in both volume and complexity. We delivered more than 32 million appointments in September, nearly 5 million more than the same month in 2019, but with 827 fewer fully-qualified, full time GPs. In a recent survey by the College, 54% of GPs reported that they were unable to deliver consistent continuity of care in the way they want to and meets their patients’ needs.

“GP teams across the country do strive to deliver continuity of care in innovative ways, in line with daily pressures and new ways of working; for example, by prioritising patients who would most benefit from continuity and fostering trusting relationships between patients and several members of our multi-disciplinary teams, including GPs. The challenge is that there is a huge amount of pressure on GPs to prioritise quick access to our care and services over other important factors for patient care, such as continuity.

“Making continuity of care a 'requirement' is not straightforward, as it may mean different things to different practices and patients, and some patients may value it and benefit from it more than others. As with any targets, there are also risks associated with taking an inflexible approach that could lead to unintended consequences. Ultimately, given current pressures, it’s hard to see how such a requirement would be feasible for many practices. What we do need to see is more resources for general practice and thousands more GPs and other members of the team, so that practices can ensure their patient populations can get the appropriate care they need.

"Our recent manifesto outlines seven solutions that will help us increase the number of our GPs and ensure sufficient time and space within our practices to provide timely, safe and appropriate care to our patients, safeguarding the future of general practice and ensuring continuity of care is there for those who need it.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 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.