RCGP strategic plan

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has published Great doctors, great care: RCGP strategic plan 2017-2020.

The plan sets out the College’s four main objectives for the next three years which are:

  1. Shape the future of General Practice
  2. Ensure GP education meets the changing needs of UK primary care
  3. Grow and support a strong, engaged membership
  4. Be the voice of the GP (influence)

The College has also identified 12 values, which can be summarised in four ‘core’ values:

  1. Excellence
  2. Teamwork
  3. Leadership
  4. Care

Full report: Great doctors, great care: RCGP strategic plan 2017-2020.

8 out of 10 patients are positive about GPs

As the NHS treats more patients than ever before, a new nationwide survey shows the majority of people are positive about their GP care – with almost 85 per cent rating their overall experience of their GP surgery as good | NHS England

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The GP Patient Survey 2017 compiled responses from more than 800,000 people across the country on their experience of healthcare services provided by GP surgeries, including access to GPs, making appointments, the quality of care received from GPs and practice nurses, satisfaction with opening hours and out-of-hours NHS services.

The majority of patients (84.3%) say they were able to get an appointment the last time they tried and around seven in ten patients (68%) say it is very or fairly easy to get through to someone at their GP surgery on the phone.

The survey found that confidence and trust in GPs remains extremely high at 91.9%, while almost three in four patients (77.4%) would recommend their GP surgery to someone who has just moved to the local area and 72.7% of patients rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good.

There has also been a marked improvement in the awareness of online GP services, with more patients saying they are aware of how to book appointments (up 3.8% on last year to 36.1%), ordering repeat prescriptions (up 2.6% to 34.1%) and access to medical records (up to 8.9%).

However, it also suggests areas for improvement, with one in ten patients (11.3%) saying they weren’t able to get an appointment – an increase of 0.5% on the 10.7% in 2016. And the number of patients reporting they can usually see their preferred GP dropping to 46.2% – down by 2.4% on last year.

GPs to refer patients to libraries to promote access to reliable health information

GPs will be able to refer patients with long-term conditions to public libraries from this month under a charity-led scheme to promote access to reliable health information | GP Online

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A reading list of 28 trusted books for patients with long-term conditions, stocked by all public libraries in England from this month, has been drawn up under the scheme, backed by the RCGP and organisations including Public Health England.

The books on prescription scheme for patients with long-term conditions is an extension of the existing Reading Well programme, launched by charity the Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians.

Thousands of GPs already refer patients to libraries under the existing scheme, which has focused on areas including mental health and support for patients with dementia and their carers.

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.

 

 

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