GP surgeries in the UK should evolve to be more like ‘mini hospitals’ to help the whole NHS system run more effectively, The College of Medicine’s Vice President, Professor Sir Sam Everington, has said.
Speaking to the Sunday Express, Sir Sam urged the Government to consider the wider picture when it comes to NHS efficiency, saying already over-stretched GPs waste ‘time and money’ because they can’t access hospital diagnostics without referring to a consultant first.
Sir Sam leads the Bromley-by-Bow Medical Centre in London’s Tower Hamlets, which has long since championed social prescribing to promote better health within its community.
He told the newspaper: “GPs should be able to have direct access to many hospital diagnostics rather than having to go via consultant referral which takes up more time and money.
“It doesn’t make sense that we have to do so many referrals to consultants just to do diagnostic tests to justify your request.”
He added: “My message to the Government, NHS England and the Department of Health is ‘please think of the whole NHS system and how it can be used most effectively, and not just of hospitals’.”
The GP said his practice had successfully used social prescribing – and link workers – for many years, as a way of easing pressure on the centre’s team of GPs, saying: “This could include a food delivery, help from a physiotherapist, psychiatrist, occupational therapist, social worker, geriatrician, palliative care nurse, or health care assistant.
“It can prevent people needing to access their GP by providing services in the community.”
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In the same article, our Chair, Dr Michael Dixon, also called for radical change, saying all GP practices should offer social prescribing as an alternative to prescribed drugs where applicable.
He said: “We can’t treat everything with tablets or procedures. Most conditions have some social component – loneliness is endemic, for instance – and we can improve patients’ lives immeasurably by addressing that.”