Dr Chris Mimnagh: General practice can do more to promote health

It's no longer possible for GPs to do everything and we may need to consider more GPSI roles - including in new areas related to health promotion - to make the profession more attractive, says Dr Chris Mimnagh.

We’re in crisis in general practice. Our leaders want more money to preserve what we do, in the way we’ve always done it. NHS England is promoting online ‘i-consult’ solutions, alongside a ramping up of skill mix and federalism. The media, fuelled by radical individualism, is seeking a return to the old days of GPs on demand for home visits and kitchen table appendicectomy.

It would be hard to imagine a worse time to be a GP.

Here’s my thoughts. I love being a GP, but there’s so much more we could do as a system to promote health. Some practitioners are already using lifestyle medicine as the vehicle for change, others are looking at social prescribing as a means of promoting long-term, sustainable change.

So how can we all remain ‘just’ a GP?

If we take on work that our colleagues in secondary care deem eligible we can become a GPSI, but there is currently no accreditation, recognition or standardisation of those specialities within general practice.

Creation of roles such as GPSI in telemedicine or GPSI in social resource empowerment could develop a portfolio within practices which may entice some doctors into primary care.

The corollary of this specialisation is, of course, the admission that we can’t do everything. Some colleagues will recoil in fear at the thought of losing our generalism, but at a time when the career is less attractive we need to consider all options.

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP in Liverpool and head of clinical innovation liaison and deployment at The Innovation Agency, the academic health science network for the north-west coast.

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