General practice is the "crowning jewel of the NHS" and is the solution to funding challenges faced by the health service, the chairman of the Royal College of GPs has said.
In an editorial published in Total Politics magazine, Professor Steve Field (pictured) says patient care should be top of the agenda for all political parties in the run up to the general election.
In his article, Professor Field highlights the cost-effectiveness of general practice, as the political parties square up for government in unprecedented financial difficulties.
He writes: "Our health service faces a huge challenge: how to respond to reduced funding without reducing the quality of the services we provide, or the quality of the care our patients deserve.
"This is a daunting prospect for any new government, but GPs and their primary healthcare teams are a key part of the solution."
Professor Field outlines in the editorial the vital role general practice will play in healthcare following the general election; detailing the importance of preventative care, GP federations and greater care provided in the community.
The editorial is a precursor to the release of the RCGP's Manifesto, due out later this week.
Professor Field said: "It is impossible to escape the implications of reduced public spending, but the reality of reduced funding must not be allowed to cloud the fact that providing care for patients is the top priority of the health service.
"We need to evolve, and we need new, ambitious models of care for the future.
"GPs can, and will, do more; general practice is the crowning jewel of the NHS and is the solution to the big health challenges we will face following the general election."
Do you agree with Professor Field? Should primary care look at developing new models of care? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Allowing GPs to look after patients in an effective professional manner is bound to be better than government by gimmick. It should be more cost-effective and deliver quicker and more appropriate outcomes than ploughing through costly layers of 'referral management' and artificial tariffs. Do I think this government will allow it? Do I think they will stop micro-maning a service they have never properly understood? Do I believe in porcine aviation as well??" – Alan Moore, Cheshire
"Yes, we should introduce a primary care assessment unit attached to hospitals to reduce the number of A&E attendances. Some areas of UK may have them not in NHS Kirklees, it is something we are looking at within the PBC consortium" – John Pickford, West Yorkshire