Innovative business models are needed for general practices to survive

A new report suggests radical ways that general practices can change the way they operate in order to survive desperate times

The King’s Fund has released a new report – entitled Innovative models of general practice – which focuses on the ways in which GP practices must change in the face of incredibly pressure. After all, the BMA has theorised that we may lose over 600 practices by 2022 if we don’t act quickly.

The report begins with a dire warning: “General practice is in crisis.” The King’s Fund’s research has found that GPs are, more than ever, struggling to deal with increased workload when funding has not risen at anywhere near the same rate. Recruitment and retention are huge issues for GP practices too, particularly younger doctors.

However, the general message of the report is hope. It examines, as the title suggest, innovative models of general practice from various countries in the hope that successful new ways of operating might be established and put into action.

GP practices have evolved a great deal, yet the ways in which they are operated haven’t necessarily caught up. The King’s Fund outlines a model in five parts – each of which represent a different attribute – which can be made flexible but, ultimately, focus on relationships and community.

The five parts things that underpin general practice, according to Innovative models of general practice, are: person-centred, holistic care, access, co-ordination, and continuity and community focus. The report suggests that, “Models that focus on access at the expense of other attribute may not provide the most effective and comprehensive care for patients.

“Successful new models of general practice often focus on building relationships – between patients and professionals, between professionals within general practice and beyond, and between general practice and wider communities.”

Since the model The King’s Fund is putting forth relies on relationships, it may take a while to implement something along these lines; however, it could also help to slow the inevitable loss of these vital services – but only if it is paired with funding.

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The report continues: “Making radical changes to the model of general practice is complex and takes time, leadership and resources. General practice often has less access to the financial or human resources needed to undertake change than the NHS organisations. External support for improvement will be critical.”

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