A reminder of general practice's excellence

It is time for a fight back. Rather than suffering a constant diet of funding cuts and GP bashing, the profession should be retaliating and pushing out the message that general practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and that the constant undermining by government will hurt patients and communities.

Yes, we have said that more than once at GP, in this column and elsewhere. So, now we have decided to enter the fray ourselves, with a campaign to help you promote the value of general practice to the public.

General practice is a success story that is both cost-effective and valued by patients. We at GP think that's a story worth telling, particularly at a time when funding cuts, extended hours, polyclinics and other government plans threaten practice viability and the national media continues to bash GPs on income.

This is why GP has launched the Valuing General Practice campaign. It is about reminding the whole country how central general practice is to the NHS and their lives.

There has been so much tinkering at the edges of primary care that government, and perhaps even sections of NHS management, have forgotten the value of general practice. That is the part of the service that is genuinely cradle to the grave; where the same surgery could feature the newly pregnant and the terminally ill.

That it is the part of healthcare that treats every part of the person.

General practice should be seen as about more than just issuing some prescriptions or making referrals. Surgeries are important to communities; patients value continuity of care, knowing your doctor by name is reassuring which in turn is beneficial to recovery and reception staff can provide a lifeline to the elderly and vulnerable by noticing when regular patients are absent.

These are just a few of the benefits of general practices we will highlight with this campaign and which we will be pointing out are under threat from yet more funding cuts.

GPs are providing all these services and benefits at 2004 funding levels despite the rising prices we are all experiencing at present - if that isn't value for money, what is? It is hard to think of anything else being offered at 2004 prices.

We want the government and the public to take notice and value general practice again. We want to help you and in turn we ask that you help too by putting up posters and encouraging patients to show their support online or by signing a petition. Together there is a chance to turn the tide.

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