Continuity of care has many benefits but requires resources and time to deliver it, says RCGP

Responding to a study in the British Journal of General Practice on continuity of care in general practice.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Continuity of care is highly valued by patients and GPs and our teams alike. It is what allows us to build relationships with our patients, often over time, and this study builds the strong evidence base of its benefits for patients and the NHS.

“Delivering continuity of care is becoming increasingly difficult as GPs and our teams struggle to deal with intense workload and workforce pressures – and the need to prioritise access to GP services. However, GP teams strive to deliver continuity of care in innovative ways, such as working to build trusting relationships between different members of the practice team, not just the GP. “General practice urgently needs more GPs and more members of the practice team, but we also need more time with patients, so that we can build the strong and trusting relationships with patients that both patients and GP team members value. This is why the College has long been calling for 15-minute appointments, at least, to be standard in general practice – but offering longer appointments means offering fewer, and swift access to services is already strained.

“Not all patients value continuity of care – but many, particularly those with complex health needs, do and this study demonstrates that it’s essential continuity of care remains at the forefront of general practice. But this will require greater numbers of GPs and other clinicians working in general practice, so that we can spend more time with patients. The Government needs to make good on its promise of 6,000 more GPs and 26,000 more members of the practice team – as well as introducing measures to tackle ‘undoable’ workload in general practice, so that we can deliver the care patients value and need.”

The College has resources on continuity of care available on our resource page, including our toolkit.

Further information

(For Media only)

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.