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Is it safe to see different GPs?

View profile for Tom Mooney
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The former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has warned that the NHS is moving towards an “uberisation” of GP services, with patients being forced to see a different doctor every time they are in contact with a surgery.

The former minister was speaking as part of a new campaign called Rebuild General Practice, which is supported by the British Medical Association (BMA) and the General Practice Defence Fund.

Mr Hunt warned of a crisis in the sector. In particular, he highlighted the important role GPs play in terms of spotting cancers and how this appears to be impeded when there is less continuity of care. For example, Mr Hunt quoted a Norway study from 2021 which found that there was a 30% less chance of a patient going to hospital and a 25% less chance of a patient dying if they had the same GP over a long period of time.

The Rebuild General Practice campaign has released polling from 1,395 British GPs which had a staggering finding that nearly nine in ten GPs fear patients are not always safe at their surgeries. Ultimately, the GPs themselves believe that it is “safer to make a diagnosis if you know a patient’s context, you know their family, their social situation. You’re more likely to see those red flags when you should.”

The current Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, highlights that more is being invested in the NHS workforce than ever before in history, and this includes having more doctors in training at medical school than any other time in history. However, the opinion of Mr Hunt, and the Rebuild General Practice, does seem to suggest that the policy in relation to how people are seen by their GPs needs to be very carefully considered to ensure patient safety.

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