GPs and the health service


Sir, – As a doctor, liaising with GPs is a routine occurrence for me and usually follows a standard pattern. However, I recently had a disturbing interaction with a rural GP. His knowledge of his patient was incredibly detailed, his demeanour was pleasant, and his sense of responsibility was admirably professional. What made me uneasy about dealing with this doctor was the fact that the GP was well past the age of retirement but aims to “hang in there for a few more years” for the welfare of the community.

While depending on the goodwill and good nature of GPs is a reliable way to ensure provision of healthcare, it is not a stable plan that will last the tests of time. On a personal and professional level, this is of great concern.

All over the holiday season, Twitter was awash with the pleas of GPs to reverse the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act (FEMPI) cuts, adequately support primary healthcare, and expedite the development and implementation of a new GP contract. I strongly agree with these requests. A contract that is fit for purpose, that is future-proofed to allow for evolutions in basic medical care, and that ensures adequate resourcing is critical to the continued ability of our GPs to care for our population.

In an era where we continue to hear that personalised medicine is the future and that targeted therapies that are bespoke to individuals are what we need, we seem to have lost the ability to appreciate that we already have that with our GPs. The doctors that provide primary care know us best, know how to treat us, and know what approaches will and will not work with us. Despite the apocalyptic overtones, it is not an exaggeration to say that a collapse of general practice would decimate our entire healthcare system. Once we lose this relationship-based healthcare, restoring it would be inordinately difficult and the wellbeing of patients would suffer.

These issues need to be fixed as soon as possible. – Yours, etc,