In a joint letter today, RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada and chairs of its Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland councils, Dr John Gillies Dr Paul Myres and Professor Scott Brown, respectively, called on ministers to take on a set of 10 ‘core values’.
They claim general practice is ‘mission critical’ to the future of the NHS and needs investment at time when health services across the UK are being asked to find ways of delivering services more efficiently without compromising quality of patient care.
It reads: ‘We call on ministers in each of the constituent nations of the UK to work with the RCGP and other stakeholders to develop a plan to make this vision a reality.
‘A vision is needed that builds on the strengths of general practice and the trust placed in it by the public, and unlocks its potential to deliver improved, more cost effective patient care across the NHS and within our communities.
‘There is a wealth of evidence to show that good general practice services, based on clinical generalism, help deliver safer, more patient-centred and holistic care, leading to improved health and lower mortality at lower overall cost to the nation’s budget. This includes improved management of multiple and long-term conditions, earlier detection and treatment of serious illness and avoidance of unnecessary hospital admissions. General practice is also associated with high patient satisfaction.’
They ask the ministers to invest in general practice by:
- Providing more care in the community.
- Providing more GPs, spending more time with patients and extending GP training.
- Integrating health and social care.
- Greater involvement of clinicians in decisions about how services are planned.
- Recognising the value of generalism.
- Achieving change - working in collaboration across health and social care.
The chairs identify the shared challenges and how specific solutions can be tailored to each individual nation, adding there ‘must be a strong focus on improving the way that services are delivered on the ground, rather than focusing solely on structural change’.
The 10 core values are listed as:
- Supporting a greater involvement of GPs and other clinicians in the shaping of NHS care and in decisions on how healthcare resources are used.
- A common understanding on which health services will be provided free at the point of use across the UK.
- Developing better integration of the whole range of health and social care services to the benefit of patients.
- Reducing bureaucracy, increasing efficiency in the NHS and finding savings that don't damage patient outcomes whilst recognising that difficult decisions regarding priorities must be made.
- Empowering patients to play a part in the management of their own health and increasing accountability to local populations.
- Respecting patients’ beliefs and valuing diversity.
- Involving patients and the public in shaping NHS services.
- Encouraging and spreading good practice and innovation including partnership (where appropriate) with the voluntary and private sectors.
- Vigorously supporting the promotion of public health and disease prevention.
- Reaching out to deprived and excluded groups and communities to reduce health inequalities.