Access to GPs and the provision of out-of-hours care are just two of the areas the British Medical Association (BMA) is asking the public to comment on from today (Friday 28 May 2010).
GP leaders hope the launch of a new consultation document, which asks patients and the public about their priorities for general practice, will encourage debate on what the long-term strategy for general practice in England should be.
The financial crisis, rising patient expectations and the pressure of caring for an ageing population are putting an increasing strain on the NHS, says the BMA, which will mean difficult decisions will need to be made about the priorities for general practice.
Launching the document, Striking a balance: what matters most in general practice?, Dr Laurence Buckman (pictured), Chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, said: “With so many challenges ahead we need to develop a long-term strategy for general practice now, because there are real tensions between what people say they want the service to provide and what it can provide.
“For example, we know patients want quick access to GPs, yet many people also want to be able to see the same doctor whenever they visit the surgery. The current structures and capacity of the health service mean it is difficult to deliver both.”
The consultation document, Striking a balance: what matters most in general practice?, asks patients to comment on four areas:
The evolving practice team.
Getting an appointment.
Care and treatment outside normal working hours.
Continuity in general practice and coordinating care in the modern NHS.
Dr Buckman said: “There is a pressing need to have an honest debate about what the focus for general practice should be. I would encourage the public to respond to our consultation because, that way, we can ensure general practice evolves in line with patient and public priorities.”