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'Life-saving' continuity of care at risk in the UK, GPs warn

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Continuity of care in general practice reduces use of out-of-hours care, acute hospitalisations and mortality, researchers have shown - as GP leaders warned staff shortages and heavy workload means it is becoming harder to deliver in the UK.

Long-lasting personal continuity with a GP is 'strongly associated with reduced need for out-of-hours services, acute hospitalisations, and mortality', according to a study by researchers in Norway.

An association lasting more than 15 years between a patient and a specific GP reduces the probability of any of these factors by 25-30%, the study published in the British Journal of General Practice found.

The researchers said 'promoting stability among GPs' should be a priority for health authorities, and warned that continuity of care was under pressure.

The findings come as general practice in the UK faces intense pressure amid a shortage of GPs and intense workload after more than 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to the findings, RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: "Continuity of care is highly valued by patients and GPs and our teams alike. It is what allows us to build relationships with our patients, often over time, and this study builds the strong evidence base of its benefits for patients and the NHS."

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Source: GP Online, 4 October 2021

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