This site is intended for health professionals only

BMA to quiz patients on out-of-hours and access

By Gareth Iacobucci

The BMA has responded to the new Government's pledge to make GPs responsible for commissioning out-of-hours care by launching a consultation for patients on how they wish to access their GP.

The document, Striking a balance: what matters most in general practice?, asks patients and the public about their priorities for general practice, focusing heavily on out-of-hours provision, access, and continuity of care.

GP leaders said the move was designed to encourage debate on what the long-term strategy for general practice in England should be, in the context of the financial crisis, rising patient expectations and the pressure of caring for an aging population.

They also warned the nation ‘is likely to have to make some difficult decisions about the priorities for general practice' in the next few years given the increasing financial strain on the NHS.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘There are 300 million consultations in general practice in the UK every year; for most people it's their only contact with the health service and we want it to work well for them.

‘But with so many challenges ahead we need to develop a long-term strategy for general practice now, because there are real tensions between what people say they want the service to provide and what it can provide.'

‘For example, we know patients want quick access to GPs, yet many people also want to be able to see the same doctor whenever they visit the surgery. The current structures and capacity of the health service mean it is difficult to deliver both.'

‘There is a pressing need to have an honest debate about what the focus for general practice should be.'

The BMA survey will consult patients on the future of GP out-of-hours The BMA survey will consult patients on the future of GP out-of-hours