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Why GPs value personal continuity

Most GPs value personal continuity in their everyday work and believe it leads to higher-quality care, research has concluded.

A qualitative study of 24 GPs in England found many believed personal continuity increased their accountability and sense of responsibility.

Personal continuity was valued most in treating patients with complex or psychological problems, where GPs believed prior knowledge would lead to better care.

The study, by the University of Bristol department of general practice, published online by Family Practice, identified drawbacks of knowing patients well.

Over-dependency and the dreaded 'heartsink' patients were cited, along with poorer communication. One GP said there was a danger of restricted diagnosis 'because you can't see the wood from the trees'.

Author Dr Matthew Ridd, a GP in Bristol, said the positive aspects of personal continuity still outweighed the bad.

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