A unique opportunity in the UK
Changes in Primary Health Care
There are in excess of 30,000 General Practitioners (GP’s) in the UK. As primary health care physicians GP’s occupy a key role in the delivery of health care to the population of the UK. The role of the GP as an extensively qualified generalist physician typically based in the community, has undergone slow but significant change over the last few years. The GP has his or her roots in the concept of the family doctor that is that a doctor will undertake the responsibility for the well being of the family unit. Providing house calls, bringing general medicine into the home and giving round the clock medical advice are traditional corner stones of the GP service.
More recently the traditional service has undergone rapid change. Rising health care consumption, cost containment pressures on GP’s, greater administration as part of the purchasing role, that GP’s undertake in the UK internal health care market, have meant that GP’s have formed together in larger practice groups. This in turn has changed the GP ‘family doctor’ role to a provider of primary health on practice basis. Patients often do not see the same doctor, and house calls are made more and more by deputising doctors. Last year the Government made available a £45m development fund surgeries (PCS’s) as facilities where GP’s will attend out of hours to see patients in a surgery as an alternative to more expensive house calls. These surgeries also provide telephone medical advice leading to a switch from care administrated out of hours through high levels of home visiting to a situation now where home visits represent only 30% of out of hours episodes of clinical care.
Currently passing through Parliament is the Primary Health Care Bill - Choice and Opportunity. This legislation seeks to modernise the provision of primary health care by inviting more innovative ways of providing services, encouraging greater private...