Guest Editorial - Providing care for tomorrow is the challenge

GPs are an easy target when it comes to criticising healthcare provision in the UK. It is easy to rattle off the cliche of golf-playing GPs working a few hours a week while their patients struggle to get appointments, when all evidence points to the contrary.

Dr Gerada: 'GPs' roles will change over the next few years as more of us become involved in commissioning and management'
Dr Gerada: 'GPs' roles will change over the next few years as more of us become involved in commissioning and management'

The 2010 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey highlights how well the NHS, and UK general practice, performs in comparison with other European and North American health services. The relationship we have with our patients can only be strengthened with increased control over the care we offer. Generalists must remain fundamental in providing the best care for patients.

It is for this reason that the College, in partnership with leading think tank the Health Foundation has established a new Commission on Generalism, to examine the contribution of medical generalism, and the role of the generalist in today's - and tomorrow's - NHS.

The Commission - chaired by Baroness Ilora Finlay - promises to be one of the most important pieces of work that the College has ever carried out and has the potential to inform and influence healthcare policy. It will explore what is understood by the concept of generalism, and make recommendations to help develop, strengthen and promote medical generalism in today's society.

With the NHS reforms, and the tandem challenges of meeting the health demands of ageing population against the backdrop of significant financial pressure, the challenges for GPs have never been greater.

GPs' roles will change over the next few years as more of us become involved in commissioning and management. However, the GP's responsibility in management must always be to champion the quality of patient care within the given resources.

I have every confidence that the Commission will help generalists, politicians and the public to develop a better understanding of the importance of generalism. Providing care today is something to be proud of, providing it tomorrow is the challenge which this Commission must meet head on.

  • Dr Clare Gerada is a London GP and this is the second of her monthly series of columns. Email her at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com.

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