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The value of general practice

Dr Sam Finnikin and Dr Margaret McCartney

What do you value about general practice?

A simple question, but surprisingly one that the population hasn’t been asked by researchers or policymakers.

We probably know what we, as individual GPs, value. But as a profession and a society, the answer to this question hasn’t been properly addressed - or answered.

If we don’t know what we value, we can’t ensure that we keep it.

We all know the problems in general practice - the popular and professional press are full of negative stories about our profession.

There’s no doubt we have big challenges and enormous difficulties.

But our work can also be brilliant - we have days where we did something that made a profound difference to others. When we’re too busy and overwhelmed with work, it’s easy to forget the things that have been appreciated by our patients. So, our Value GP project aims to look at our work from a different perspective.

By asking GPs, and patients, what they value about general practice, we can, for the first time, build a robust picture of which aspects of our work we need to keep.

If we don't explain to policymakers what we must keep, we’re in danger of losing it

General practice is changing fast. If we can identify the unique and cherished facets of our role in healthcare and society, we have a chance to protect and nurture it.

By GPs answering the question ‘What do you value about general practice?’ and patients ‘What do you value about your GP?’, we can ensure that systems and policies imposed on us can be judged against the responses. If found lacking, we’ll be able to challenge with facts.

Similarly, we can propose and promote changes that help us maintain the valuable aspects of general practice and ensure we allow them to flourish.

We need your help. We’d be grateful if you could tell us in a very specific, if perhaps slightly daunting, manner.

What we’re asking you to do is to record a short video clip (30 seconds or less) answering the question ‘What do you value about general practice?’ and email it to us along with your consent to contribute.

Full details of how to achieve this are available here. We have dozens of GPs already participating and hope to get to at least 100. You can also get in touch via or @SFinnikin, @Mgtmccartney or #ValueGP on Twitter.

We all know the problems with workload, and this project doesn’t negate them. But if we don’t, as a profession, explain to policymakers what’s valued and what we must keep, we’re in danger of losing it.

GPs are hugely appreciated by patients, but we don’t often hear that - this project will ensure we have a record that can be used to critique policy and challenge lazy thinking, so please contribute your video or spread the word.

Dr Sam Finnikin and Dr Margaret McCartney are RCGP fellows for evidence and values and GPs in Birmingham and Glasgow

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Readers' comments (14)

  • I suspect if you asked GPs to records short clips of what they really think of the profession, they would contain more expletives than a Tarantino flick.

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  • Cobblers

    Shaba, I refer you to my last sentence at 11 Dec 2019 11:17am.

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  • Why not make the video? It won't take long, and the information will be useful; Dr McCartney is very committed to improving general practice, and is an experienced GP, not just an academic. Nothing to lose but twenty minutes of an evening.

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  • I think you should be applauded for trying to stand up for the values of our profession. No one would do anything constructive if they were all left drowning on the front line. We need sensible people representing our views to the RCGP. If not, we will end up with a branch-style general practice where patients go to 'hubs' for anything urgent, and see a GP in a supermarket style organisation, salaried, but powerless to control their working life. Carry on you too, and ignore the negativity. I don't have a face for video, however.

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