The leader of the UK's GPs will today urge family doctors to focus on their front of house services.
Launching a new British Medcial Association (BMA) publication, Developing general practice: Listening to Patients, at the start of this year's Conference of Local Medical Committees, Dr Laurence Buckman, the Chairman of the BMA's GPs Committee, will praise the high quality of care provided by GPs but will say the patient experience is also important:
"This is the year of quality, when we show our patients and the public what we can do and how well we can do it. I want to ensure we are consistently responsive to our patients and to praise the GPs who just get on with it – who deliver care in difficult areas, with hard-to-reach patients, with the unemployed or the poor."
He will urge GPs to consider how they can improve the quality of their patients' experience:
"It should be normal for all of us to think 'how does this look to my patients?' We can always improve aspects of the practice and in doing so make the surgery more inviting."
Developing general practice: listening to patients was put out to consultation in March 2009 and asked GPs and patient groups to share their experiences of developing and improving their non-clinical services.
This final publication contains innovative examples of how GPs have developed services for their patients. For example, a surgery that has interactive computer pods in its waiting room so patients can record feedback on a touch-screen computer giving staff live comments on the care and services being offered.
Others offer web-based prescription ordering services which can be linked to a pharmacy of the patient's choice for easy dispensing. There are also IT systems which allow GPs to see online all correspondence relating to a patient, their test results and if in-patients, which ward they have been admitted to, making overseeing their patients' care easier and quicker.
"Experience pertains to oneself, a good experience of NHS care by one can be bad by another. Providing care en masse will always be controversial unless the care provided is the same for all. But symptoms vary with individuals. Where does one start in assessing true outcomes in care but with individuals? Assessment needs a more comprehensive approach, a totality of health and wellbeing and not specifically illness driven" - V Henry, London"