GPs will soon be running virtual clinics and routinely consulting with patients online, according to the RCGP’s vision of general practice in 2022.
Patients will also have electronic access to their medical records, prescriptions and the referral system, and be more involved with shared decision-making about their care. Consultation times will be more flexible while GPs will undergo enhanced training for their role as “expert” generalist physicians.
These are just some of the goals set out in The 2022 GP – A Vision for General Practice in the Future NHS, by the RCGP. It outlines the future role of GPs, including the challenges they will face, and sets a number of key priorities for the profession.
The use of technology features heavily in the document with the prediction that consultations using Skype or similar means will become more common and that patients will expect to be able to communicate remotely with their GP, attending virtual clinics and making contact via social media or text message.
The report also says at least 10,000 new GPs will be needed across the UK.
But the RCGP makes clear that its vision can only be achieved with major investment in general practice that will enable GPs “to move from an outdated 20th century model of fragmented primary and secondary, health and social care to a modern and efficient 21st century model of integrated 'person-centred' care, based within local communities.”
RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada said: “If GPs, who do 90 per cent of NHS work for nine per cent of the budget, are not properly funded then much of this new vision will not be achievable.”
The RCGP also calls for more responsive out of hours care but makes it clear this does not mean GPs will be required to provide “direct patient-to-doctor access out of hours”. Instead, they envision a service with improved oversight and management, and co-ordination between the practice team and other care professionals.
The report explained: “Working together across federations of practices will facilitate better out-of-hours responsiveness and the ability to develop different models that are able to address the needs of different populations of patients.”