NICE chairman outlines basic qualities of a good GP

The ideal consultation model involves 'shutting up, listening, caring and knowing something', NICE chairman Professor David Haslam has told the RCGP annual conference.

In a speech reflecting on how GPs could become the kind of doctors they themselves would like to see, he said: ‘Doctors should ask the question - what sort of doctor are you and what do you want to be? If they are different, what are you going to do to get there?’

In a tongue-in-cheek moment, he added: 'Simply shutting up and listening can allow a patient to open up and tell their story, he said - and allow a GP to determine what really is the problem.

‘I think caring is critical,’ he added. ‘If you care about someone who is consulting, then you're automatically interested. If we care and show that we care, then so much will follow automatically.'

NICE guidance

NICE guidance can play an integral role in allowing GPs to keep up-to-date with the latest research - helping them fulfil the 'know something' part of the ideal consultation, he said.

‘I absolutely understand change can be difficult when new research comes out, but the simple fact is science will keep changing its mind - indeed, that’s the glory of science,' said Professor Haslam.

‘All this change is a good thing, but it doesn't half make life difficult. Wouldn't it be fantastically helpful if there was an organisation that did the reading and synthesised it for you? This is where NICE comes in.

‘My aim is for NICE to be seen as a genuine resource for GPs in primary care.’

He stressed that GPs have a say in NICE guidance - and draft recommendations are regularly changed to take into account feedback.

GP involvement

‘We are really keen to involve GPs in our work,’ he told the conference. ‘We want GPs to get involved - join one of our committees, comment on our draft guidance, apply to join our Fellows and Scholars programme.’

But GPs should bear in mind that guidelines should not be seen as prescriptive - especially when dealing with patients with multiple conditions.

‘What does good care look like? Certainly not taking eight guidelines and adding them together - that’s a recipe for overtreatment.

‘I have a real concern that doctors, especially younger doctors, treat the guidelines as a cookbook they must follow exactly. But the clue is in the word "guidelines". They are recommendations based on the best evidence. Doctors must use their clinical judgment.’

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