Guest Opinion: General practice is fit for the future - Professor David Colin-Thome

Many commentators claim that general practice is not fit for the future. I disagree. General practice will continue to be the main focus and hub of NHS service provision.

It is at least on a par with community pharmacy for patient contact, undertakes 80% of all clinical consultations for under 10% of NHS monies, remains the most popular NHS-funded service and the evidence of its value is well cited.

The unique success of general practice in the UK is based on continuity of care serving a practice population. In fact, it is these unique attributes of the GP system that have lent themselves well to being the central plank of post-1990 NHS reform in England; GP fundholding, leadership of primary care groups, practice-based commissioning, all culminating in CCGs. So why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

A challenge for the future is to retain our heritage of being a local resource for our patient population while extending the range of services offered.

Furthermore, in being the major influence on clinically led commissioning to improve poor performance and enable provider development.

General practice needs to remain local and 'small', yet 'big' enough to be the strategically important NHS provider. Individual practices may lack the capacity or capability to provide an extended service, but if they are part of a locality or federation of provider practices, that organisation can provide the necessary strategic and operational management skills and staff.

And boldly for the future, I hope that CCGs will seek to devolve finances to localities and willing practices.

To pull many of these strands together, I developed the concept of the 'primary care home'. A home for all care professionals based on GP practice population(s) and commissioned to have budgetary responsibility to provide or commission services, known colloquially as 'making or buying'.

A provider as an alternative to the hospital focus - delivering extended care, yet allowing practices to retain their identity. The future for federations?

  • Professor Colin-Thome was national director for primary care in England and is now an independent healthcare consultant.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Dr Nikita Kanani: Why peer support is the key to building a stronger general practice

Dr Nikita Kanani: Why peer support is the key to building a stronger general practice

NHS England's acting director of primary care Dr Nikita Kanani says connecting with...

Next-day GP appointments three times as likely to be missed as same-day bookings

Next-day GP appointments three times as likely to be missed as same-day bookings

Patients are nearly three times as likely to miss appointments booked with GP practices...

Outsourcing GP services overseas could be 'legal minefield', experts warn

Outsourcing GP services overseas could be 'legal minefield', experts warn

Using digital technology to outsource GP consultations overseas could leave the NHS...

RCGP sets out advice for GPs on prescribing cannabis

RCGP sets out advice for GPs on prescribing cannabis

GPs should warn patients hoping to access cannabis-based medicines that the process...

Every patient in England has access to extended hours GP appointments

Every patient in England has access to extended hours GP appointments

Every patient in England now has access to extended hours GP appointments, NHS England...

GP at Hand takes down video that sent 'wrong message' about antibiotics

GP at Hand takes down video that sent 'wrong message' about antibiotics

GP at Hand has removed a promotional video from its website that showed a patient...