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Patients ‘want to see GP over other health professionals’

Almost two-thirds of patients in Scotland want to see their GP first rather than another member of the primary care team, according to a survey commissioned by the RCGP, despite the new Scottish contract moving to more multidisciplinary working. 

The YouGov poll of 1,022 adults also found that 64% place importance on seeing the same GP each time if possible.

Speaking at the RCGP annual conference in Liverpool, Dr Miles Mack, RCGP Scotland chair, said amidst a long-running workforce and funding crisis, the doctor-patient relationship must be protected.

‘GPs are uniquely placed to deliver care others cannot offer, and their rigorous training in delivering this effectively means that they are best placed within the healthcare system as the first port of call for their patients’ needs.’

RCGP Scotland said the figures come after recent concerns about the number of practices handing back contracts to the health board and patient safety.

A new GP contract, due to be announced in November, will propose a wider healthcare team taking over aspects of care including prescribing and chronic disease management.

While GPs will have the freedom to decide who they see, plans are for GPs to have the time to focus on more complex patients and diagnoses.

Other findings from the poll which was carried out in April, include:

  • 79% believe it is the GP that can be trusted most to help meet their healthcare needs.
  • 69% of agree that their GP is the best person to guide their way through the healthcare system.
  • 85% agreed on the importance of their GP being able to help look after them as a whole person, not just treating a condition.
  • 74% thought the GP knowing about their wider personal circumstances in life was helpful.

The RCGP, who have called for 11% of NHS Scotland’s budget to go to GP services, said the survey results gave strong support for the GP to remain firmly at the centre of patient care.

Dr Mack said: ‘It’s hugely encouraging to see the high value that patients place on the expert, generalist care that they receive from their GPs.

‘These findings reinforce our long-standing belief that patients see the positive impact having their GP at the centre of their healthcare has on their health and on their experience of the healthcare system.’

He added that GPs hugely value the work of their multi-disciplinary team members but no other professional can or should be used as a replacement for GPs.

‘This survey sends a clear message that patients want their GP to remain central to their care as the NHS develops.’