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Government must restore doctor-patient relationship to the heart of general practice, say MPs

20 October 2022

MPs accuse the government and NHS leaders of failing to heed the evidence on the importance of continuity of care, hastening the decline of a uniquely important relationship between a GP and their patients, in the midst of an acute and growing shortage of GPs.

The wide-ranging report on the future of general practice urges Ministers and NHS England to acknowledge a crisis in general practice and set out what steps they are taking to protect patient safety.

MPs warn that seeing your GP should not be like phoning a call centre or ‘booking an Uber driver’ never to be seen again and note that care based on a doctor-patient relationship is essential for patient safety and patient experience. The report sets out steps to reverse the decline in the continuity of care, making it an explicit national priority with a new measure requiring GP practices to report on continuity of care by 2024.

However, this will be more difficult to achieve unless the workforce crisis is also addressed. The Committee finds it “unacceptable” that one of the defining standards of general practice has been allowed to erode. MPs also urge NHS England to champion the ‘personal list’ model and re-implement it in the GP contract from 2030.

Chair's comment

Health and Social Care Committee member Rachael Maskell said:

“Our inquiry has heard time and again the benefits of continuity of care to a patient with evidence linking it to reduced mortality and emergency admissions. Yet that important relationship between a GP and their patients is in decline. We find it unacceptable that this, one of the defining standards of general practice, has been allowed to erode and our report today sets out a series of measures to reverse that decline.

“Seeing your GP should not be as random as booking an Uber with a driver you’re unlikely to see again.

“The wider picture shows general practice as a profession in crisis, with doctors demoralised and overworked, the numbers recruited not matching those heading for the door. A reluctance by Government and NHS England to acknowledge this crisis cannot continue and Ministers must set out how they intend to protect patient safety in the short term.”

Further information

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