Continuity of care and the length of the relationship between patients and their primary care team are significantly associated with lower use of out of hours (OOH) services, hospital admissions and mortality, researchers say.
The Norwegian study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found that seeing the same GP reduced OOH use and acute hospital admissions gradually as time went on. The risk of dying was also lower after a relationship of >15 years.
RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall commented: ‘Continuity of care is highly valued by patients, GPs and our teams alike [but] delivering continuity of care is becoming increasingly difficult as GPs and our teams struggle to deal with intense workload and workforce pressures.
‘General practice urgently needs more GPs and more members of the practice team, but we also need more time with patients so we can build strong and trusting relationships.’
The College has been calling for 15-minute consultations to become standard but without more practice team members, longer appointments would result in fewer appointments being available.
Professor Marshall said: ‘The Government needs to make good on its promise of 6,000 more GPs and 26,000 more members of the practice team – as well as introducing measures to tackle “undoable” workload in general practice – so we can deliver the care patients value and need.’