Dr Jonathan Griffiths, a GP in Winsford, Cheshire, and chair of Vale Royal CCG, argues that society overvalues specialists, missing the importance of the generalist's 'helicopter view' and holistic approach, their diagnosis and treatment of numerous conditions, and the ability to signpost to a specialist when necessary.
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Dr Griffiths uses the example of an elderly man admitted to hospital with a heart problem who, after four weeks of deteriorating on the ward following the fitting of a pacemaker, was found to have suffered a brain haemorrhage in a fall prior to admission.
'He needed a specialist to sort out his heart problem but then he needed a generalist to see him holistically and take stock,' said Dr Griffiths.
'Specialism works really well when you know what's wrong with you and you only have one thing wrong. As soon as there is diagnostic uncertainty or there is a plethora of other medical problems, then all bets are off.'