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Haslam: GPs need new ways of ensuring patient continuity

The chair of NICE has warned that practices need to find new ways of ensuring continuity of care for patients, as increasing demands on GP time take their toll on patient care.

Professor David Haslam told delegates at the Pulse Live conference that radically new ways of working were needed to enable GPs to remain close to the profession and see patients while taking on commissioning.

He said GPs were ‘central’ to the NHS. ‘Our centrality and decision-making skills mean we are in demand,’ he added. ‘And the more we are in demand, the more work for CCGs and the less we are in practice, which means the continuity breaks down.

‘We need to find new ways of dealing with this. I’m very taken by the Dutch model, where the patient knows that there are a couple of people who know them.’

Professor Haslam, who is chairing the two-day conference, said GPs felt under threat from ‘the threat of constant reorganisation’. He added: ‘Every time we get used to how the health service works, it changes.’

He also criticised NHS Alliance chair Dr Mike Dixon’s assertion that 50% of hospital work needed to be moved to general practice. He said: ‘Practices that already feel swamped would not want 50% of hospital work coming into general practice.

‘It is absolutely critical that the funding and the support and the infrastructure is there before 50% of the work comes out of hospitals.’

Professor Haslam also suggested we have to think more about the use of technology, including increase patient access to records. He said: ‘We have to think much more around self care… We have to explore much more around the use of modern technology, Skype, apps, etc.

‘There have been lots of concerns around patient access to records. But the kidney medicine world has found that access allows patients to function much better online and - I use the term advisedly - “bother” the doctor less as they feel more involved.’

GPs should also actively look for feedback, he said: ‘I think it is vital we listen to our patients… we listen to complaints and concerns and actively look for feedback all the time and not in dribs and drabs.’