General practice is truly at a crossroads. It is facing many pressures and challenges but also opportunities.
The expectations for health care are changing from all points of view, including patients, policymakers, the
NHS and GPs themselves. There is no shortage of analysis. It is knowing what to do next that matters.
Some people have expressed uncertainty about the future of general practice. Choices have to be made about the direction of health policy. There are those who believe that the profession does not have solutions to the problems that the health system is facing. The College believes that they are wrong.
This document – the product of intense deliberation and discussion – offers a vision for better patient
care in the NHS. The RCGP believes that it is essential for GPs to put forward their own ideas for improving patient care. Sometimes we are so busy in our active day-to-day clinical work that it is hard to step back and consider strategic issues. But this is precisely what we have to do. This Roadmap can be used to challenge policymakers, and to support business cases for the development of services that build on the values we espouse here.
The status quo is not sustainable. Fragmentation of care, health inequalities and urgent care must be
addressed. Furthermore, if we are to meet the health needs of patients over the coming years, we will need to bring about a radical change in the quality, organisation and delivery of services.
We believe it is possible to deliver improvements using a variety of models that build on the strengths
and values of general practice. Using a ‘federated’ approach with primary healthcare teams and practices working together, virtually all health problems – including mental health – could be dealt with in primary care.
This document maps the way forward and demonstrates how the enormous potential of primary care can be maximised to bring about major improvements in patient care. The College’s Roadmap is supported by all the major general practice organisations and represents an unrivalled opportunity for GPs to unite. The Roadmap is the blueprint for the future.
We urge that GPs organise themselves into a force to be reckoned within their local health economies. We hope that this document will be used by GPs and others as a basis for declaring an ambition to improve their local NHS. We believe that every effort must be made, and support given, to implement this Roadmap.
Professor Mayur Lakhani CBE FRCP FRCGP
Chairman of Council, Royal College of General Practitioners