Future of general practice: GPs need to work out how to become more efficient

In the third of his articles on sustainability in general practice, Dr Chris Mimnagh says that practices need to tackle inefficiency.

The third principle of sustainability is to avoid waste.

This is different from the toxic accumulations I mentioned last time, this is about the search for efficiency.

For us in primary care there are lots of ways to drive efficiency, multiple mantras adorn the office walls of the various six sigma and lean gurus across the primary care world. ‘Touch each piece of paper only once’ used to be a favourite one- but now the use of Docman means no paper, lab results flow paper free.

But still we have inefficiency. Now I know its hard to take time to look afresh at the processes in the practice when you feel that there is too much to do, too little time to do it in, and you have 1,001 jobs to attack. But even that feeling is wasteful.

You can only do one thing at a time, you should do the most important thing, and that might mean taking the time to look again at the Docman fast actions, draft a protocol for normal diabetic retinopathy letters, consider the possible impact of hiring an assistant practitioner or paramedic to assist in triage.

Listen to your inner guru, you will know what needs to be changed. I'd bet that any time spent considering how to be more efficient would not be a waste of time, but instead would be an investment.

Next time the value and cost challenge.

  • 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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