Primary medical, or General Practice services are the nerve-centre of the NHS. It is, by some distance, the service that patients interact with most frequently. The pressure on GP services to meet patient demand has been the subject of media attention for at least 20 years. Despite frequent and repeated claims of imminent collapse, the service has struggled on. Some rationing of GP services may always be necessary and perhaps even desirable, but recent figures suggest a rapid escalation of this long-standing issue. In a 2022 survey, almost half of GP patients report difficulties getting through to their practice by telephone.
Our objectives for this project are threefold:
- To provide decision makers, clinicians and managers with some conceptual frameworks that may facilitate useful conversations about need, demand, and supply of primary medical services.
- To conduct analyses that quantify need, demand and supply of primary medical services, the change in these quantities over time and the difference that exists between ICBs.
- To map out the proposed solutions to this long-standing issue so that decision-makers can see the connections and tensions between them. Which of these solutions seek to reduce need, which to moderate demand, and which to increase supply. We intend to focus in particular here on the potential to manage demand for primary medical services, by improving continuity of care. What are the factors that appear to be driving down continuity of care, which of these can be tackled and how much benefit might accrue if we do.
We will summarise the project outputs in the form of an interactive report.