The conversation between GPs and patients is under enormous pressure, and must be rethought for a less deferential age in which patients have access to vast amounts of medical information, a report launched by Demos today will argue.
The report argues that the traditional model of "doctor knows best" is being eroded. People, especially those with rare or chronic diseases, increasingly want to participate in their own treatments. GPs and policymakers must embrace patient engagement in medical treatment and healthcare, rather than stigmatising informed patients as "cyberchondriacs".
The pamphlet, produced in partnership with Pfizer UK, Rethink and Diabetes UK, and based on in-depth consultation with GPs, policy-makers and service users, argues that patient engagement can and should form the basis for effective health policy reform. Endless Whitehall quick-fixes only defer the problem; the real key to transforming the health system is to enable patients to actively participate in the conversations taking place in GP's consulting rooms.
Demos researcher and co-author of the study Jack Stilgoe said:
"Any GP will recognise the patient who comes into their surgery carrying armfuls of printouts from the internet. But rather than groaning, doctors need to see this as a good thing. Patients are becoming experts too, and the NHS needs to acknowledge this and listen to them.
As Lord Darzi puts the finishing touches to his review on the future of the NHS, the focus should be less about the mechanics of the system, and more about the people that are at the heart of healthcare."
The report recommends:
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