Blog by Dr Jenni Burt, Senior Social Scientist at THIS Institute
With an estimated 340 million or so GP consultations per year in England, it’s amazing that what actually happens within consultations – and the challenges GPs and patients face before, during and after these encounters – doesn’t get that much public attention. So it was fantastic to hear that BBC Radio 4 wanted to give some airtime to exploring this foundational part of the NHS. Even more fantastic was that, rather than involving GPs and patients alone in the programme, they saw fit to include a social science perspective as a key aspect of the debate.
I had a lovely morning down at Wogan House in London with Margaret McCartney – the GP host – along with Jonathan Tomlinson, a London-based GP and blogger, and Mark Doughty, a Senior Consultant in Leadership Development at the King’s Fund, who gave a patient’s perspective on the issues at hand.
We spent two hours debating the ins and outs of GP consultations – how they start (well – or not so well), the hurdles GPs face in delivering high quality care during consultations, the silent spectres of the policy makers which hover in the corner of every consultation room, the barriers patients face in deciding to consult and how to present their problems, and rapidly changing models of care. Whilst loads ended up on the cutting room floor, the programme did a great job of highlighting the immense commitment and dedication of GPs and the need for evidence – rather than whimsy – in shaping major shifts in care practices.
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Top image: Dr Jon Ferdinand