Effect of online health information on GP consultations

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Research published in the British Journal of General Practice has explored how searching for online health information before visiting a doctor influences patients’ behaviour during the consultation.

The effect of Dr Google on doctor-patient encounters in primary care looks at the effect of searching online health information on the behaviour of the patients as well as how the GP handles this information.  It concludes that the use of the internet by patients is not seen as a threat by GPs and leads to a better mutual understanding of symptoms and diagnosis.

Full reference: Noor Van Riel et. al. The effect of Dr Google on doctor–patient encounters in primary care: a quantitative, observational, cross-sectional study 

 

Additional link: RCGP press release

Access to General Practice

Concerns persist over patients’ access to GPs and staffing levels

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The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published Access to general practice: progress review. This follow-up report finds that the Department of Health and NHS England now have objectives to improve and extend access to general practice and have made some effort to understand the demand for extended access.  However, the committee notes that extended hours are being introduced without an understanding of the level of access currently being provided, or how to get the best from existing resources.

The report also notes that despite the government’s target to recruit 5,000 more GPs, the overall number of GPs has reduced in the last year, and problems with staff retention have continued.

Health Education England has increased the number of trainee GPs recruited, but still did not manage to meet its recruitment target last year.

 

Seeing the same GP associated with fewer admissions

Older patients who see the same general practitioner over time experience fewer avoidable admissions to hospital, new research shows. | BMJ | OnMedica

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The Health Foundation research, published in The BMJ, shows that if patients saw their most frequently seen GP two more times out of every 10, this was associated with 6% fewer admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions such as asthma, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia.

 

The researchers examined whether continuity of care with a general practitioner is associated with hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions for older patients. Data was analysed from over 230,000 anonymised patient records for older people aged 62-82 years.

The research found there were fewer hospital admissions for certain conditions when patients saw the same GP more consistently. The authors stress this is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. However, they conclude, “strategies to improve the continuity of care in general practice may reduce secondary care costs, particularly for the heaviest users of healthcare.”

Full reference: Barker Isaac, Steventon Adam, Deeny Sarah R. Association between continuity of care in general practice and hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions: cross sectional study of routinely collected, person level data

Revalidation and appraisal of General Practitioners

The General Medical Council has published Sir Keith Pearson’s review of revalidation Taking Revalidation Forward: improving the process of relicensing for doctors

 

The report highlights evidence that patients expect there to be systems in place for checking that doctors continue to be safe to practise, but they are not generally aware of the important role they can play in this process.  The report includes recommendations for easing the burden on doctors engaging in the revalidation and appraisal process.

 

 

Additional links:

Improving patient access to general practice

The National Audit Office has published Improving patient access to general practice.

This report examines the structures and mechanisms that exist to improve patient access to general practice. The report finds that challenging objectives for improving access to general practice have been set by the Department of Health and NHS England, but a more coordinated approach and stronger incentives are needed.

The report found that NHS England and Health Education England’s efforts to increase the GP workforce are at particular risk from falling retention, shortfalls in recruitment and increases in part-time working. The time taken to train clinical staff, and increasing demand, mean supplying sufficient numbers is challenging.

 

Pressure of 10-minute consultations undermining GP compassion, warns GMC

GPs are struggling to provide compassionate care to patients under the strict pressures of 10-minute consultations, a report published by the General Medical Council has warned. | GMC | GP online

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Problems arising due to the professional isolation of doctors, fragmentation of care and poor communication are threatening the wellbeing of doctors, according to the GMC.

The Medical Professionalism Matters report, compiles feedback from more than 1,000 doctors who responded to polls online and at GMC events held to gauge the challenges facing the medical profession.

The report assessed issues relating to ethics, resilience, collaboration, compassion, scholarship and patient safety. Doctors said they did not believe their colleagues were any less compassionate than 20 years ago, but 44% felt that increasing time pressures and higher patient demand had undermined care.

Read more at GP Online or read the full GMC report

Two in five GP trainees’ education undermined by heavy workload

As many as two in five GP trainees face excessive workloads that interfere with their training, according to a GMC survey | GP Online

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The GMC has warned that trainee doctors are struggling with increasingly heavy workloads, which it says is ‘eroding the time’ they have for training.

Results from the regulator’s annual National Training Survey (NTS) found that many trainees feel they are under significant and growing pressure that is ‘threatening the training they need to become the next generation of GPs and consultants’.

Read the full news story here