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06-09-2012 | General practice | Article

General practice ‘not fit for purpose’

Abstract

King’s Fund - Transforming the delivery of health and social care

medwireNews: The current model of general practice is "not fit for purpose", if future challenges to the NHS are to be met, concludes a report from the King's Fund.

Among a raft of changes to healthcare delivery recommended in the report, Transforming the delivery of health and social care, the think tank calls for more specialist services to be delivered in primary care and for practices to work more closely together. GPs need to focus more on diagnosis and urgent care needs with more work delegated to nurses and allied healthcare staff, the authors say.

The report takes aim at the current model of care, in which it says "family doctors as independent contractors run small businesses that are isolated from each other and constrained in the range of services they are able to provide".

And it emphasises that the current separation between GPs and hospital-based specialists, and between health and social care, "often inhibit the provision of timely and high-quality integrated care".

The King's Fund found general practice to be of 'highly variable' quality in a controversial study published earlier in the year, and the current report highlights this and the need to improve outcomes as making "a compelling case for change".

"Primary care in the United Kingdom is more firmly established than in many other countries and provides a wider range of care than at any time in the evolution in the NHS," the report states.

"Despite this, there is evidence of wide variations in the quality of care and inequities in the distribution of GPs. If the aim is to tackle these variations and to deliver more care out of hospital, the current cottage industry model of general practice is not fit for purpose."

medwireNews (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price