Future of general practice: GPs need to ditch ineffective ways of working

General practice needs to get rid of its 'toxic accumulations' if it is to become sustainable, argues Dr Chris Mimnagh.

January is often the time patients focus on their own toxic waistlines.

If we're going to make general practice sustainable we need to concentrate on our own toxic accumulations. Now I'm not getting all alternative and complimentary, no colonic irrigation advice from me.

It's a simple truth that in any organisation there are things that are done just because we have always done them that way, data collected because of this, processes carried out because that's how we were taught.

If general practice is to be sustainable we will need to stop doing things which are slowly poisoning us.

An example might be how we handle extras or divide up lab results. if we have situations where we know we feel stressed, feel that we are not delivering efficiently, or the nagging worry that there must be a better way of doing this then you are probably right, there will be a better way of doing it.

Make a note of these situations. Take some time out to discuss them with colleagues, who knows, they might have an answer. Don't limit yourself to inside the practice, arrange a field trip, look beyond general practice.

If you are stuck consider reading any one of the many books on becoming lean, improving quality and reducing waste.

The issue with toxic accumulations is that they gradually build up, at first unnoticed, then you notice them at a certain level only after reaching a scale which makes them almost too big to fix.

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP in Liverpool co-director of clinical strategy at the NHS partnership organisation Liverpool Health Partners

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