Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Camilla Cavendish (Opinion, 13 November) ask what GPs are for. The answer is to manage 86 per cent of the problems that members of the UK public bring to doctors at the lowest cost of any medical consultation in the NHS. They make the most diagnoses in the NHS and tailor treatments to lifelong risks. Their teams provide the most personal preventative care, such as vaccinations and cervical smears.

The two examples Cavendish provides of her children going to A&E need to be balanced against the fact that GPs offer 10 times as many consultations as all A&E departments combined, especially in caring for “elderly bodies who often suffer from multiple problems” .

She is right to emphasize the loss of GP continuity and it is strange when so much is measured in the NHS that GP continuity is usually not. However, the Health Foundation’s GP continuity program helped a lot to measure it.

She is right that something needs to change and that change is regaining GP continuity, so that more GPs are learning to “be very valuable. . . look at the whole person ”, as many do.

Recent research, including the study she cites, has revealed 10 different benefits of GP continuity, including significantly better patient satisfaction, higher quality of GP care, and even a lower mortality rate for patients.

Professor Sir Denis Pereira Gray
Former President, Royal College of General Practitioners
Former Chair, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Exeter, UK

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