Rapidly Falling Continuity of Care Levels Poses Threat

The continuity of care in the UK is quickly decreasing and this is posing an “existential threat” to the safety of patients.

This is according to Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).

The most worrying crisis in decades

Professor Marshall has said that relationships between doctors and patients are vital to delivering effective, high-quality care and are a “powerful intervention” in boosting patient satisfaction and health outcomes.

He has also warned that with ever-increasing pressure on the NHS, it is becoming nearly impossible to deliver continuity of care across its services.

Alongside the shortage of GPs and rising demand for services, Professor Marshall said the situation is “the most worrying crisis in decades”.

Concerns are now mounting about the NHS waiting list overall and whether the NHS can tackle it – the number of patients waiting currently stands at 6.5 million people in England alone.

The secretary of state for health and social care, Sajid Javid, has already stated that the current model of the NHS is not working and that no more money would be going to the health service.

Only 39% of GPs able to deliver continuity of care

Professor Marshall’s comments come after GPs have called for strike action against contracts that force them to offer appointments to patients at evenings and weekends.

At the annual British Medical Association conference, medical professionals called on their union leaders to organise an opposition to the contract by taking industrial action if necessary.

At the RCGP’s annual conference, Professor Marshall warned that according to a recent survey, GPs no longer have enough time with patients and 65% of GPs feel that the safety of patients is being comprised because of this.

He also stated that the survey showed only 39% of GPS were able to deliver continuity of care. This is down from 60% two years ago.

A separate study of 1 million NHS patients conducted by Queen Mary University of London has shown that 52% see the same GP regularly and those who benefit from this most are those with long-term health conditions.

A shift to a more focused approach

Professor Marshall went on to say: “At a time when the workload is going up and the size of the GP workforce is reducing, as it is in the UK, this may require a redesign of how we work, with a shift from a GP as all things to all people to a more focused approach.”

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