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  • Ratio of GPs to population falls by a tenth since 2009

    Ratio of GPs to population falls by a tenth since 2009

    Friday, 13 July 2018 13:02
  • Dementia risk advice introduced into NHS Health Check

    Dementia risk advice introduced into NHS Health Check

    Tuesday, 19 June 2018 10:15
  • Wales announces £100m to shake up NHS and social care services

    Wales announces £100m to shake up NHS and social care services

    Thursday, 14 June 2018 14:24
  • Welsh pharmacies to supply flu vaccine for care home workers

    Welsh pharmacies to supply flu vaccine for care home workers

    Monday, 11 June 2018 14:07
  • Flu vaccination by GPs sees increase for 2017-18 season

    Flu vaccination by GPs sees increase for 2017-18 season

    Wednesday, 30 May 2018 11:07

a doctor in consultation imageJuly 5 2018

Patients who see the same doctor over time have lower death rates, a new study has found. 


Repeated patient-doctor contact is linked to fewer deaths and the effect applies across different cultures, the researchers said. This was true not just for family doctors, but for specialists including psychiatrists and surgeons as well.

University of Exeter Medical School researchers analysed data from 22 studies with varying time frames from nine countries with a range of different cultures and health systems. “Of those, 18 (82%) found that repeated contact with the same doctor over time meant significantly fewer deaths over the study periods compared with those without continuity.”

Sir Denis Pereira Gray, lead author of the study and a GP for 38 years at St Leonard’s Practice, Exeter, said: “Patients have long known that it matters which doctor they see and how well they can communicate with them. Until now arranging for patients to see the doctor of their choice has been considered a matter of convenience or courtesy: now it is clear it is about the quality of medical practice and is literally ‘a matter of life and death’.”

Professor Philip Evans, of the University of Exeter Medical School, added: “As medical technology and new treatments dominate the medical news, the human aspect of medical practice has been neglected. Our study shows it is potentially life-saving and should be prioritised.”

Responding to the research, RCGP Vice Chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said: “Many GP practices across the country are using innovative approaches to retaining continuity of care, for example, a patient might be assigned to a team consisting of several GPs and other healthcare professionals in the practice, all of whom will have full access to their records, allowing them to see and build trusting relationships with the whole team, not just ‘their’ doctor.

“Balancing continuity of care with timely access to GP services is a huge challenge for general practice, and ultimately the answer is more GPs and more resources for the profession.”

Links:
University of Exeter announcement      
DJ Perieira Gray et al. ‘Continuity of care with doctors—a matter of life and death? A systematic review of continuity of care and mortality’. BMJ Open 2018;8:e021161.          
RCGP comment            

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