Future of general practice: Practices must evolve or risk extinction

CCGs have been told to develop plans to make general practice sustainable, but practices need to change to reflect their environment if they are to survive.

Happy sustainable new year!

I must confess that NHS chief executive Simon Stevens' requirement for CCGs to produce a sustainability plan for primary care made me smile.

I've written about sustainability principles in the past, used them to modernise my own practice and totally agree that they should be the basis of any future plans for general practice.

I thought it might be worth running through some real world examples and techniques to implement the principles of sustainability, here's the first one.

Q. What (if anything) should your typical practice be doing to deliver a sustainable future?

A. That's easy – change.

Seriously, it's a sustainability principle. Look at your environment, it is changing - housing, technology, demographics are all constantly changing.

And you? Has your way of working changed too?

To be fair most of us are reactive to change, but few are proactive.

How is your population and environment changing? New houses? New nursing home? Closures? Provider changes? New joint strategic review?

The sustainability principle here is to evolve quicker than your environment.

Take some time as a practice team to look outwards to that environment. Use whatever framework works for you; PEST, PESTLE, it matters less what you use, more that you actually do it!

The list is long and never ending. Be warned, your failure to evolve quicker than the environment risks extinction.

Next up - toxic waste.

  • 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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