Nature of the work
For most people, general practitioners (GPs)
are the first point of contact with the NHS. They provide a
complete spectrum of care within the local community, often
combining physical, psychological and social components. Care
is given unconditionally – irrespective of a patient’s age
group or disease. GPs try wherever possible to maintain the health
of patients through preventive care and health promotion. Their
role is particularly beneficial in helping patients navigate
specialist secondary care services where needed.
Working in general practice
There are a number of contractual options for
- Independent contractors are in charge of running their own
practices as business either alone or in partnerships. They
have autonomy in how services are delivered according to their
contract with the primary care organisation.
- In England, these GPs have increasing responsibility for the
commissioning of hospital services for the community. Salaried GPs
are employees of independent contractor practices or directly
employed by primary care organisations.
Within general practice, there is considerable
scope for flexible working. GP practices run computerised clinical
systems, and a large number are now ‘paperless’. This enables
audit, clinical management and contract management to be
GPs work as part of a primary health care team, and increasingly,
with other health professionals. They may also train general
practitioner registrars in the practice, organise postgraduate
training schemes or arrange continuing professional development
(CPD) for their peers as CPD tutors. An increasing number also
provide more specialised clinical care in the community.
General practice has tremendous potential to remain at the centre
of care. Most chronic care will be done by the primary care team,
and increasingly diagnostics (near-patient testing) will be done in
the surgery without requiring consent of the specialist. GPs within
their individual organisations will be encouraged to develop
special interests and skills.
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