Research finds GPs in the UK are top of world league

Commonwealth Fund study rates UK NHS highly for chronic care, access, and quality incentives.

Mr Burnham: reform has paid off
Mr Burnham: reform has paid off

The quality of UK GP services 'stands out' compared with other countries, an international review has concluded.

The 2009 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey compared primary care services across 11 countries. It found that practices from the UK 'stand out throughout the survey for information capacity, a systemic approach to chronic care and incentives to support improved performance'.

The UK performed well on measures of access to treatments, care for chronic conditions, out-of-hours access to services and the degree to which electronic medical records were used.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the key to the success of UK general practice was its list-based system and continuity of care.

'GPs and practice staff know their patients, are able to manage complex risk in the community and therefore are extremely cost-effective while at the same time offering high quality care,' he said.

But, he added: 'The problem is that the English government does not seem to place as much value on this as it should, hence the emphasis on impersonal care through Darzi centres.

'The risk of this is a loss in quality of care over the long term if it is a policy that is extended.'

Health secretary Andy Burnham said the findings showed a decade of NHS reform had paid off. 'Clinicians now say they are confident they are treating and caring for patients in ways that match the best healthcare systems in the world,' he said.

'The NHS is not perfect but it has moved from poor to good and I want to see it go from good to great on the next stage of the journey.'

Speaking in Washington DC last week, he added that the NHS could still improve its focus on prevention by copying US healthcare models.

The countries assessed in the survey were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US.

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