GPs must be ambitious with public health, Kings Fund says

GPs need to be more ambitious in including ill-health prevention and public health in their daily activities, according to a King's Fund report.

The report, which will feed into the King's Fund's GP inquiry, said GPs have a ‘crucial role’ to play in promoting health and preventing disease, which will be even more important when they take on commissioning responsibility.

But it said GPs' preferred method of providing information and advice as a means of addressing public health is not as effective as other interventions.

It added that research continues to find that the relationship between public health and general practice in England focuses mainly in secondary prevention.

‘For example, in the case of smoking, GPs frequently respond to requests for help giving up smoking rather than proactively engaging existing smokers,’ it said.

Instead, the report said there is enormous potential for general practice to take a more proactive role in ill-health prevention and public health.

The report concluded: ‘Providing more proactive ill-health prevention should not overwhelm GPs: there is a limit to what GPs can be expected to do. But they need to work with their wider GP teams, in partnership with their wider communities, to improve public awareness of the range of services offered locally.

‘Working in partnership and integrating ill-health prevention into their current work will help to make public health policies more sustainable.’

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