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Study Finds Seeing Same Doctor Reduces Death Rates

A study carried out by Researches at the University of Exeter has suggested that Patients who see the same Doctor when attending appointments have lower death rates.

The Researchers stated that, though it has been neglected in our day and age, the human part of medical practice could be “potentially life-saving.”

This has been acknowledged by GPs’ leaders, however, they believe that due to the ‘intense work-force pressures’ put on GP’s, patients who wanted to the see the same Doctor each time would experience longer waiting times for appointments.

The study was published in the BMJ Open and looked at the results of 22 separate studies which had been carried out in nine different countries, including England, US, South Korea, Canada and France. Out of these studies, 18 highlighted that patients visiting the same Doctor over an average two-year period had fewer deaths compared with patients not seeing the same GP.

The Researchers stated that continuity of care is important to health and that it should be given a higher priority in the medical world. It is believed to be especially beneficial to people with chronic conditions, complex needs and long-term mental health issues.

Professor Philip Evans from the University of Exeter’s Medical School said, “Continuity of care happens when a patient and a Doctor see each other repeatedly and get to know each other. This leads to better communication, patient satisfaction, adherence to medical advice and much lower use of hospital services.”

Sir Denis Pereira Gray, who also worked on the study and who is from St Leonard’s GP practice in Exeter agreed that continuity is beneficial to patients: “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 its literally a matter of life and death.”

It is believed that some GP practices are already attempting to work with patient continuity by assigning patients to a set team of healthcare professionals including a GP, so that relationships can be built between them.

Vice Chair of the Royal College of GP’s (RCGP), Professor Kamila Hawthorne, said, “Balancing continuity of care with timely access to GP services is a huge challenge for general practice. And ultimately the answer is more GP’s and resources for the profession.”

NHS England has so far pledged an extra £2.4bn per year for general practice and an additional 5,000 GP’s by 2020.

 

BBC News. ‘Seeing the Same Doctor Over Time ‘Lowers Death Rates.’’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44643607   (29 June 2018).

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