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Found 376 results
  1. News Article
    GPs do not ‘face huge amounts of complexity’ and most of their appointments are ‘incredibly straightforward’, according to a former Conservative health minister. Speaking to BBC Radio 4 last week, Lord Bethell defended upcoming legislation that will bring physician associates (PAs) under GMC regulation, which could be struck down by the House of Lords this evening. Both the Doctors’ Association UK and the BMA had previously complained about the lack of debate in Parliament. Discussing the role of PAs on Friday, Lord Bethell said he had not seen ‘any evidence’ of patients being confused about whether they were seeing a doctor or an associate. "GPs don’t face huge amounts of complexity. Most interactions are incredibly straightforward. Certainly my own experience over the last 20 years of going to my GP, it really hasn’t required 10 years of training to deal with my small problems," he said. Lord Bethell added: ‘When they are complex, they should be escalated. But there’s a much wider group of people who have professional training who should be respected, celebrated – they shouldn’t be denigrated, they shouldn’t be in any way patronised by other professionals.’ Read full story Source: Pulse, 26 February 2024
  2. Content Article
    Eating Disorders Awareness Week takes place 26 February - 3 March 2024 Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that affect an estimated 1.25 million people in the UK. There are many unhelpful myths about who eating disorders affect, what the symptoms are and how to support people in recovery. Alongside a current lack of appropriately trained staff and capacity in mental health services, this can make it challenging for people with eating disorders to access the help and support they need. Patient Safety Learning has pulled together ten useful resources shared on the hub to help healthcare professionals, friends and family support people with eating disorders. They include awareness-raising articles, practical tips for patients and their loved ones, and clinical guidance for primary, secondary and mental health providers.
  3. Content Article
    There is currently a lack of research addressing the impact of patient suicide on GPs. This qualitative study in BMJ Open aimed to examine the personal and professional impact of patient suicide, as well as the availability of support and why GPs did or did not use it. The authors found that GPs are impacted both personally and professionally when they lose a patient to suicide, but may not access formal help due to commonly held idealised notions of a ‘good’ GP who is regarded as being unshakable. Fear of professional repercussions also plays a major role in deterring help-seeking. A systemic culture shift which allows GPs to seek support when their physical or mental health requires it is needed, and this may help prevent stress, burnout and early retirement.
  4. Content Article
    This report by The King's Fund argues that the health and care system in England must shift its focus away from hospital care to primary and community services if it is to be effective and sustainable. It looks at a wholesale shift in the focus towards primary and community health and care across leadership, culture and implementation. Successive governments have repeated a vision of health and care services focused on communities rather than hospitals, but that vision is very far from being achieved. The report outlines research that explored the underlying factors that have prevented change, and what might need to be done to achieve the vision. The researchers analysed published evidence and national datasets, and interviewed stakeholders across the health and care system. The report concludes that to achieve community-based care, political and other national leaders will need to completely shift their focus away from hospitals towards primary and community health and care.
  5. Content Article
    Continuity of care, defined as an ongoing therapeutic relationship between a patient and a physician, is a defining characteristic of primary care. However, arranging a consultation with one’s regular doctor is increasingly difficult as practices face physician shortages. Kajaria-Montag et al. studied the effect of declining care continuity on the productivity of physicians by analysing data of over 10 million consultations in 381 English primary care practices over a period of 11 years. Specifically, they examined whether a consultation with the patient’s regular doctor is more productive than with another doctor in the practice. The authors found that the time to a patient’s next visit is on average 18.1% longer when the patient sees the doctor they have seen most frequently over the past two years, while there is no operationally meaningful difference in consultation duration. The data show that the productivity benefit of care continuity is larger for older patients, patients with multiple chronic conditions, and patients with mental health conditions. The authors estimate that the total consultation demand in their sample could have fallen by up to 5.2% had all practices offered continuity of care at the level of the top decile of practices while prioritising patients expected to yield the largest productivity benefits.
  6. News Article
    Seeing the same GP improves patients’ health, reduces doctors’ workloads and could free up millions of appointments, according to the largest study of its kind. Research has previously suggested there may be benefits to seeing the same family doctor. But studies have mostly been small or covered a short period of time. Now University of Cambridge and Insead business school researchers have analysed data from 10m consultations over more than a decade in the most authoritative study on the issue yet. They found that if all GP practices moved to a model where patients saw the same doctor at each visit, it would significantly reduce doctors’ workloads while improving patient health. Multiple benefits emerged when patients had a long-term relationship with their doctor, researchers found. Seeing the same GP – known as continuity of care – meant people waited on average 18% longer between visits, compared with patients who saw different doctors. People did not take up more GP time in each consultation and the findings were particularly strong for older patients, those with multiple chronic illnesses, and people with mental health conditions. Although it will not always be possible for people to see their regular GP, researchers said the findings would translate to an estimated 5% reduction in consultations if all practices provided the level of continuity of care of the best 10% of practices. That suggests millions of appointments could be freed up. The researchers added: “Importantly, if patients receiving care from their regular doctors have longer intervals between consultations without requiring longer consultations, then continuity of care can potentially allow physicians to expand their patient list without increasing their time commitment.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 February 2024
  7. Content Article
    Primary care appointments may provide an opportunity to identify patients at higher risk of suicide. This study in the British Journal of General Practice aimed to explore primary care consultation patterns in the five years before suicide to identify suicide high-risk groups and common reasons for seeing a healthcare professional. The authors found that frequent consultations (more than once per month in the final year) were associated with increased suicide risk. The associated rise in suicide risk was seen across all sociodemographic groups as well as in those with and without psychiatric comorbidities. However, specific groups were more influenced by the effect of high-frequency consultation, including females, patients experiencing less socioeconomic deprivation and those with psychiatric conditions. The commonest reasons that patients who went on to commit suicide requested consultations in the year before their death, were medication review, depression and pain.
  8. Content Article
    In this interview, Professor Martin Marshall, former GP and Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, shares his concerns for the future of general practice in the UK. He outlines the danger that more of the workforce will turn to private practice due to current pressures facing NHS GPs.
  9. Community Post
    It's rare that I post personal information of any kind on a website such as this, but this really irked me so felt it was worth sharing. Context: I've been an Asthma sufferer since the age of 3 years old. I know exactly how to manage my condition having had it for over 50 years, and have always used a blue ventolin inhaler as and when necessary (perhaps once every 2-3 months). I have not had any serious issues with my Asthma for at least 20 years, and then only in Hayfever season. Issue: I only renew my inhaler when it expires, every 2 years or so. Therefore it is not listed on my repeat medications list. My most recent one had just run out, so I needed a replacement. Action: I emailed the GP's website as I knew I was meant to, and received an automated email back saying that I would receive a response within 5 working days. So far so good. Response: I received another email response 2 days later (pretty good!) saying that the GP would have to call me to run through why I needed a new inhaler. GP call: The GP rang on the set day and within the allocated time window and started asking me how often I used the inhaler, for what, and did I really need that or the preventative one (which I've had before). At the end of our 10 minute call, she agreed that I just needed a replacement blue ventolin inhaler, as I had asked for in the first place. What a waste of the GP's time, and mine!! It made me think that it would be a helpful thing if certain patients with decades of experience in managing their condition(s) in a very stable way could be classed as 'expert patients' on their GP record. This could save a huge amount of wasted time on both sides!! This blog post first appeared on Linkedin on 30 October 2022. I will post some of the responses to it below for added insight.
  10. News Article
    England’s largest hospital trust has written to GPs warning their patients face 15-week waits for routine MRIs, ultrasound and CT scans. Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust in central London said it was prioritising suspected cancer and other “urgent cases”, meaning “unfortunately waiting times for routine patients are now an average of 15-16 weeks for an appointment against a target of six weeks”. This is much worse than national averages, which December figures showed were 3.2 weeks, 2.5 weeks and 3.3 weeks for MRI, CT and ultrasound waits respectively. It its letter to GPs in Lambeth and Southwark – its main patches – GSTT said: “Current imaging referral demand outstrips capacity, despite these services consistently delivering near 120 per cent levels of activity compared to 2019-20. “The radiology service is exploring multiple routes to increase imaging capacity, including increased weekend working, insourcing and outsourcing contracts, but there is still a significant shortfall of slots every week.” In particular, it said primary care staff should expect long waits for the reporting of routine MRI scans. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 13 February 2024
  11. News Article
    Online services for GPs across Surrey leave many patients feeling "helpless and lost", a new report says. Healthwatch Surrey said some patients felt "defeated" by online systems and that issues were worse in certain groups. This included people with English as a second language and those less confident with technology. Online services include booking appointments, requesting repeat prescriptions and viewing test results. Healthwatch Surrey, which gathers the views of local people on health and social care services in the county, said: "Confusion around the appointment booking process and a perception that appointments are hard, or even impossible, to book online is the issue people tell us most about." One Epsom and Ewell resident was asked by their surgery to book a blood test online. They told Healthwatch: "I tried but I couldn't understand how to do it and so I called back. "I'm in my 80s and I try to be as independent as I can, but some of these processes defeat me." Sam Botsford, contract manager at Healthwatch Surrey, said communication was key in ensuring patients knew how to use online services. She said: "People feel they're being pushed online, and that spans a range of different demographics. "It's really important for practices to identify the needs of their patients and how they can best meet those." Read full story Source: BBC News, 2 February 2024
  12. Content Article
    This study in the British Journal of General Practice aimed to assess the risk of poor respiratory outcomes for people with resolved asthma compared to those with active asthma and people without asthma. The authors used three retrospective cohorts of around 16,000 patients each, in the following groups: Active asthma cohort (patients with an asthma-specific diagnostic code at any point in their GP record, and >1 asthma medication prescription). Resolved asthma cohort (patients with >1 resolved asthma code, followed from date of first resolved asthma during the study period to the earliest data of an asthma prescription, the end of the study period, date of transfer out of practice or death). Non-asthma cohort (population-based patients without active or resolved asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The results showed that compared to the active asthma cohort, the resolved asthma cohort had fewer GP consultations for asthma exacerbations and fewer asthma hospital admissions. However, compared with non-asthma patients, resolved asthma patients had more GP consultations, greater rates of respiratory tract infections and higher rates of antibiotic use. The authors highlighted a lack of guidance around care pathways for patients with a record of resolved asthma. They concluded that patients with resolved asthma may need a more comprehensive respiratory assessment if they present with symptoms of lower respiratory tract infection, in order to assess symptom burden, airway obstruction and the potential value of inhaled treatment.
  13. News Article
    One in 20 patients has to wait at least four weeks to see a GP at a time when funding for family doctor services is falling, NHS figures show. In November 2023, 1.5m appointments in England at a GP surgery took place four weeks or more after they were booked, 4.8% of the 31.9m held that month. In one in six appointments, 5.4m (17.3%), the patient was forced to wait at least two weeks after booking it to see a GP, practice nurse or other health professional. “Millions of people are being left anxious or waiting in pain because they can’t get an appointment with their GP,” said Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, who highlighted the latest evidence underlining the long delays that many patients face to see a GP. “Staggering” numbers of patients now have to wait a long time, he said. GP leaders blamed the situation on the widespread shortage of family doctors, which they said was making it impossible to keep up with the rising demand for appointments. Burnout due to intense workloads is prompting more GPs to work part time. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 22 January 2024
  14. News Article
    Long Covid costs the UK at least an extra £23m in GP and other primary care consultations each year, according to estimates in a new study. The University of Birmingham said extra appointments cost between £23m and £60m a year. The study examined more than 950,000 electronic healthcare records since the start of the global pandemic. People with Long Covid report symptoms including persistent coughs and brain fog. The condition is defined as having symptoms three months after the initial infection, which last for two months or more. Factors found to increase primary care costs included being older, female, white, obese or someone with long-term health conditions. Co-lead author Dr Shamil Haroon, from the university, said: "We might expect that patients who are older or who have long-term health conditions will need additional primary care support, but we have also seen additional costs associated with being white and female." Read full story Source: BBC, 11 January 2024
  15. Content Article
    The economic impact of managing Long Covid in primary care is unknown. In a study published in BMC Primary Care, Tufts et al. estimated the costs of primary care consultations associated with Long Covid and explored the relationship between risk factors and costs. The study found that costs of primary care consultations associated with Long Covid in non-hospitalised adults are substantial. Costs are significantly higher among those diagnosed with Long Covid, those with Long Covid symptoms, older adults, females, and those with obesity and comorbidities.
  16. Event
    This online conference hosted by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is free of charge to RCGP members and £200 for non-members. Health inequalities are differences in health across the population and between different groups in society that are systematic, unfair and avoidable. General Practice, with its unrivalled access to the heart of communities, has a key role in addressing both causes and consequences of health inequalities in the UK. General Practice is a diverse profession caring for multiple patient populations and the aim of this conference is to move from conversations to actions, improving patient care in these communities. The programme was put together by RCGP Officers, Faculty Education Leads and expert speakers, who are participating throughout the day and will include examples of best practice, relevant guidance and links to useful resources. Learning objectives: Understand the evidence linking ethnicity, protected characteristics, and health outcomes Acknowledge minority patients' perspectives of health and illness Promote the best clinical management within primary care Promote partnerships working with relevant organisations and community assets to improve patient care Areas to be covered: Health inequalities in learning disabilities Health inequalities in South Asian women in the UK Exploring and remediating unconscious bias Tackling health inequalities in African and Caribbean communities Barriers to accessing health services for migrant and ethnic minorities patients Panel discussion: improving screening uptake in minority ethnic groups End of life care and bereavement Pain management in populations with high levels of health inequality Ethnicity and disease Issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community Keynote Speaker: Professor Kamila Hawthorne MBE, Chair of Council, RCGP Register for the conference
  17. News Article
    Almost one in four people have bought medicine online or at a pharmacy to treat their illness after failing to see a GP face to face, according to a UK survey underlining the rise of do-it-yourself treatment. Nearly one in five (19%) have gone to A&E seeking urgent medical treatment for the same reason, the research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats shows. One in six (16%) people agreed when asked by the pollsters Savanta ComRes if the difficulty of getting an in-person family doctor appointment meant they had “carried out medical treatment on yourself or asked somebody else who is not a medical professional to do so”. Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said delays and difficulty in accessing GP appointments constituted a national scandal, and face-to-face GP appointments had become “almost extinct” in some areas of the country. He said: “We now have the devastating situation where people are left treating themselves or even self-prescribing medication because they can’t see their local GP.” Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in England, said: “While self-care and consulting other services such as pharmacies and NHS 111 will often be the right thing to do for many minor health conditions, it is worrying if patients feel forced into inappropriate courses of action because they are struggling to book an appointment for an issue that requires the attention of a GP or a member of practice staff.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 January 2024
  18. News Article
    An alarming number of Britons are turning into “DIY doctors” because of the struggle to get an NHS GP appointment in 2023, new polling has revealed. Some 23% of those surveyed said they could not get an appointment, while three in 10 (33 per cent) said they had given up on booking one altogether, according to a Savanta poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats. Many said they had resorted to “DIY” medical care or gone to A&E instead. One in seven (14 per cent) said they had been forced to treat themselves or ask someone else untrained to do so, with the same proportion seeking emergency care. One in five people said they had bought medication online or at a pharmacy without advice from a GP, and one in three had delayed seeing a doctor despite being in pain, as pressure on the NHS mounts. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey described the figures as “utterly depressing” and said they should serve as an “urgent wake-up call for ministers asleep on the job”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 1 January 2024
  19. News Article
    Patients who feel fortunate to get a doctor's appointment then find they are in and out of the GP surgery in less than five minutes. A fifth of the consultations in England last year were done within that time. Dennis Reed, of the Silver Voices campaign group for over-60s, said: "It is hard enough to get a face-to-face appointment with a GP these days, without being shown the door before you have had a chance to take your coat off. "The public wants the family doctor back, who knows your family history and has the time to chat about your general health and wellbeing. "A revolving door policy, with the patient exiting after a couple of minutes clutching a prescription, is not the way to run a primary care service." Research from the House of Commons Library, commissioned by the Lib Dems, found 22% of GP appointments between January to October 2023 lasted five minutes or less. Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse said: "Seeing a GP is the most vital contact for people to address their health concerns, seek help and start treatment. "Not having quick and easy access to a GP and not having sufficient time for patients during an appointment leads to huge problems later on, let alone the anxiety and additional pain people suffer because of delays." Read full story Source: The Express, 31 December 2023
  20. News Article
    Mothers in England will be asked in detail if pregnancy or giving birth has affected their mental health as a result of new NHS guidance to GPs. The move is part of a drive by NHS England to improve support for women suffering postnatal depression or other mental health problems linked to their pregnancy or childbirth. Under the new guidance GPs will ask women more questions than before about how they are feeling when they attend their postnatal health check six to eight weeks after giving birth. Family doctors will look for any sign that the woman may have a condition such as postnatal PTSD as a result of experiencing a traumatic birth or psychosis induced by bearing a child. Anyone who the GP feels needs help with their mental wellbeing will be referred to specialist maternal mental health services, which have been expanded in recent years. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 18 December 2023
  21. News Article
    GP practices with the most outdated technology and processes do not have enough staff or funding to take part in NHS England’s performance recovery programme, integrated care boards are warning. In new recovery plans which they were required to publish by NHSE, multiple ICBs have said that stretched capacity means hardly any practices have signed up to the “general practice improvement programme”, which is meant to help them implement the national primary care access recovery plan. The ICBs pointed out that the programme is time consuming, and practices which take part are not always given funding to pay for staff time. HSJ has reviewed the primary care recovery plans which all ICBs were required to bring to their board meetings in October and November, to explain how they were implementing the national plan published by NHSE in the spring. NHSE’s plan sought to improve ease and speed of access through spreading “modern” methods and processes; as well as measures to save clinicians’ time, improving same-day access, and delivering more appointments. But HSJ’s review of the ICB plans found several warning that their uptake of the improvement plan was off track, especially for “intermediate” and “intensive” support, which require substantial time for the practices, and are likely to be required by those most in need of help. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 12 December 2023
  22. Content Article
    In this blog, Dr Nadeem Moghal looks at the recent case of a 30 year-old patient who died after a physician associate (PA) at her GP surgery failed to diagnose her with a pulmonary embolism. He outlines a recent debate about the role of PAs in general practice and why employing them has become an attractive option for GP partnerships, which run as businesses. He highlights the need for PAs to be adequately trained and supervised to ensure patient safety and argues that the role is here to stay as PAs play an important role in tackling gaps in the NHS workforce.
  23. News Article
    GPs have warned that the extent of verbal abuse directed at them and their practice staff ‘is increasing’, with the majority reporting that things are worse now than during the height of the Covid pandemic. A UK-wide survey of more than 2,000 doctors – of which 617 were GPs – found that 85% of GPs have reported receiving verbal abuse from patients within the last 12 months. The research conducted by Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) also found that 15% of GPs reporting verbal abuse said they ‘had to resort to involving the police’ to deal with abusive patient situations over the past year. In the survey, GPs identified key triggers such as ‘lack of access to a face-to-face consultation’ and ‘complaints about their quality of care’ as the factors that could escalate to verbal abuse. One GP who responded to the survey said: "During a consultation with a young adult, they got very irate and demanded I just give them what they came for. "I explained they had to calm down and we would only proceed then at which they called me an ugly, fat, c**t and threatened to smash my face in. That consultation stayed with me for quite a while after that." Another said: ‘A patient smashed the surgery front door (it needed replacing) because he didn’t get what he wanted when he wanted it. "This was very scary for staff and other patients and the police didn’t even come until the next day. I felt alone, defensive and wondered why we bother to try to provide a service when some patients have already decided it isn’t good enough for them." Read full story Source: Pulse, 7 December 2023
  24. Content Article
    In this episode of the Medicine and the Machine podcast, Scottish GP Gavin Francis talks about the need to reconsider the importance of convalescence. He discusses the role of GPs in supporting patients through recovery after a hospital admission or period of illness and talks about a lack of awareness of the principles of convalescence amongst patients.
  25. Content Article
    Physician associates (PAs) support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patient. They are often employed in general practice as members of the multidisciplinary team, trained in the medical model. This update outlines the Royal College of General Practitioners' (RCGP's) policy position on PAs. The RCGP sees PAs as having an enabling role to play for general practice, but highlights that they must always work under the supervision of GPs and must be considered additional members of the team, rather than a substitute for GPs.
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