Dr Chris Mimnagh: Should GPs take a different approach to their well patients?

The latest NHS England plan to hit the headlines involves cleansing of lists for patients who have not seen the GP in the last five years. Hardly big news, but the fact it's now Capita taking on the task is a worry.

To be fair it does highlight the fact that we are an illness service not a health one.

We revel in the work of the six-plus appointments per year on average, the fact is that most of them are taken by a small minority of our patients. We enjoy the funding provided by the healthy patients in return for nothing. We feel it offsets the work put on on the sick and dying.

Might I suggest we think differently about our well patients?

If we were a wellness organisation we'd be offering health and advice at a distance. Not the pointless healthy person checks, but smarter ways to connect, offer services and keep in touch.

This relationship may fall on deaf ears at first, but sooner or later the messages will impact – the recognition that we both, doctor and patient, are in a relationship which needs to promote health not just manage disease, that health is the default and wellness is the service to be delivered.

I know it sounds hard when you are constantly up against the procession of sick patients, but even that can be managed differently, if you want to that is.

  • 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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