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March 2024

Continuity of care would reduce practice workload

Seeing the same healthcare professional improves patients’ health, reduces workload, and could free up millions of appointments, according to the largest study on the subject to date.1

Researchers analysed data from 10 million consultations over more than a decade. They found that seeing the same clinician resulted in longer intervals between appointments without adding to the consultation time.

The findings were particularly significant for older patients, patients with multiple comorbidities, and people with mental health conditions. If all practices provided the level of continuity of care of the best 10% of practices, it would translate into a 5% reduction in the number of consultations.

RCGP vice-chair Dr Victoria Tzortsiou-Brown said: ‘Studies such as this are very important for informing future policy and practice. Currently, the intense workload and workforce pressures [in general practice] as well as political agendas prioritising speedy access to GP services above all else, greatly limit the level of continuity we can offer.’

In a separate study, researchers found that a common assumption, that in the absence of continuity of physician, any competent clinician could deliver ‘joined up, continuous care’ if they have access to the clinical notes, ‘appears not to be the case’. They say continuity of care, especially in at-scale primary care models, needs more than isolated interventions such as access to patient notes and electronic messaging between practices.2

1. Kajaria-Montag H, et al. Management Science 2024;

2. Burch P, et al. Br J Gen Pract 2024;

Practice Nurse 2024;54(2):6