GPs and GP trainees from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria, Brazil and Uganda spent two days shadowing GPs in Liverpool before attending the college’s annual conference.
Glasgow GP and JIC member Dr Ula Chetty who organised the exchange, said that it had provided the GPs who took part with the opportunity to reflect on the healthcare system in their own country.
'I've taken part in an exchange in the past and found it a really useful experience,' she said.
The GPs found that, despite working in different systems, they faced many similar challenges in their day-to-day work. Dr Sophie Van Steenburgen, a GP in Belgium said that she had realised that all of the GPs were ‘struggling with the same problems and trying to find solutions'. She said that understaffing, burnout and funding issues appeared to be common across all of the countries involved in the exchange.
Dr Bikash Gauchan a GP from Nepal said that he had been very impressed with the NHS system. ‘The contribution of GPs in the UK is very special, because the health system is based on GPs,’ he said. ‘In Nepal GPs are hospital-based.’
Belgian GP Dr Anthony Dheere said that he had been inspired by the way that GPs in the UK were organised and involved in redesigning services. ‘GPs in Belgium are way less involved with policy,’ he explained. ‘I’ve been impressed with the way the RCGP work and the way GPs are changing the health system. We need to start doing that in Belgium.’
Dr Sanam Shah from Pakistan said that she had been most impressed by the involvement of the wider primary care team in UK general practice. ‘The best part of the system here is the team work,’ she said. ‘General practice is not just the doctor, it’s about the nurse, the pharmacist, the physiotherapist and the wider team. When I set up my own practice I definitely want to take this model on board and involve these other professionals.’