Guest Editorial - I don't do resolutions but here are my 2012 hopes

I'm not a great believer in new year's resolutions; I believe that the way to achieve significant, long-term change is through dedication and hard work over time, rather than through a quick fix.

Since the RCGP was founded in 1952 we have dedicated our work to improving the care we as GPs provide to our patients. I hope that in 2012 we will see patients and patient care truly take centre stage.

While it would of course be fair to say that the theme of 2011 was the Health Bill, it has by no means dominated our work and much of our key work has focused on a move towards doctor-patient partnerships, with patients taking a key role in their own care.

General practice in the UK is among the best in the world - it's about enabling patients to take control of their own health and to ensure they are involved in decisions about the care they receive.

Patients, particularly those living with long-term conditions, do not want their lives to be defined by their illness, and when patients feel that they are in control, outcomes improve, and patient satisfaction increases. The RCGP's Care Planning Initiative marks just part of our work in enabling and empowering patients.

What GPs must do is make sure every contact with their patient counts - and by this I mean that every patient, on leaving the consulting room, must have felt listened to, that their concerns were addressed and that their GP was kind to them.

It's simple to say, but in the hurly-burly of QOF, access, targets, key performance indicators and the rest, sometimes what is simple is what gets left behind.

Achieving this asks the best of GPs and patients alike, but a good start would be getting more GPs, with more, enhanced training, spending more time with patients. I hope that this year allows us to concentrate on the qualities that make general practice in the UK great, and that keep patients at the heart of everything we do.

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