A new report by the Audit Commission offers useful information on the state of general practice in the NHS ahead of new attempts at modernisation.’A Focus on General Practice in England’ was undertaken at a time of change ahead – new national standards, and new arrangements to hold practitioners to account for achieving them. New rules mean that, in future, money for general practice will follow patient need rather than doctors’investment decisions.
At the same time the report sets out how modernisation isn’t all coming from the top. Practices are doing their own modernising – with practices changing the way they organise home visits and out-of-hours services to manage their workload better, and redesigning the way that they work to cut the time that patients wait to see a GP, often by using nurses more effectively.
It concludes that the level change ahead for family doctors, and the forces on the service, such as the numbers of GPs nearing retirement with fewer trained doctors waiting to take their place, all needs careful management.
It says the goal must be to retain the best features of traditional general practice – local and well-understood services offering continuity of care – at the same time as bearing down on inefficient practices and wide variations in service levels across the country.