Patients are losing out due to focus on hospitals rather than GPs

CREDIT: This story was originally seen on The Guardian

Labour MP Paul Williams spoke to The Guardian about how strain could be taken away from hospitals by ensuring GPs are utilised and prioritised properly

An MP who has remained a general practitioner says power must be transferred from hospitals to GPs, and that the use of money and resources should shift from treatment to keeping people well and happy in their own homes.

Paul Williams, Labour MP for Stockton South, has made a name for himself as having a fresh perspective on the NHS, particularly as the organisation’s 70th birthday looms.

Rather than following the trend of MPs who retire from being GPs when they take on their new role, Williams remains at his Stockton-on-Tees surgeries two mornings per month.

He said: “Continuing to work as a GP also keeps me in touch with what NHS workers are saying.”

He believes the medical profession needs a radical shift in order to cope in the future and properly care for an ageing population. This is where his belief that GPs must be prioritised comes in.

“There needs to be a seismic shift in the NHS, from the treatment of illness to the prevention of illness.

“It is a system under huge strain, with increasing demand and an overstretched workforce. But there is too much emphasis on what goes on in hospitals, and not enough on keeping people well and in their homes.”

He, like the rest of the UK’s medical profession, welcomes the cash boost that was announced earlier this week – but he also believes that if the NHS is to be successful, it will push efforts to stop people becoming unwell in the first by focusing on general practice.

“When politicians talk about ‘the health service’ they’re often talking about hospitals.

“At the moment, out-of-hospital care is completely atomised. It’s delivered by lots of small general practices, district nurses, health visitors, social care, community mental health nurses and so on. It focuses on healthcare rather than improving health. The consequence of that atomisation is that patients lose out, including the old and frail, who need continuity of care.”

Realistically, Williams is calling for a “power transfer” to community-based services, which would create a domino effect in ensuring less patients end up in hospital.

“The NHS is an amazing institution, but it needs to undergo radical reform if it is to remain sustainable for another 70 years. It needs a massive strategic shift away from hospitals into prevention and into the community.”

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