You can’t always get what you want…

There has been a flurry of interest in the recent Patient Association report “Primary Care: Access Denied?”, based on a survey of members and supporters of that association: see for example the write up from BBC News.

Patients need to understand that if they want GPs to be available round the clock, they will be less and less likely to see someone they know. One of the major complaints of patients at present is difficulty seeing the same doctor when they go to their surgery. As our patients get older with more and more complex problems, this is a more urgent problem to address than extending opening hours. Of course GPs have access to records, but patients need to understand that, especially when they have long term medical conditions, they will get better care from a doctor who knows their case well and knows them well. That doctor is not going to be available 24 hours a day. So there is a real tension between availability all hours and continuity of care. Patients can’t have both, and we know from research for many patients continuity of care is more important.

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