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Dr Richard Vautrey: Technology focus must not come at the cost of patient relationships

by Nora Elias
27 September 2018

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Technology is key to making the improvements necessary to keeping general practice afloat, but we must be careful not lose the link to patients and the community in the process, BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey has said.
Speaking at the Management in Practice event in London today, Dr Vautrey said that direct contact with patients and working closely with the local community is ‘the real strength of general practice and that will never go away’.
While embracing technology in GP surgeries should be part of the way forward for general practice, Dr Vautrey said that remote options for consulting and working with patients should never completely replace a personal connection. This connection, he commented, lies at the very heart of general practice.
However, Dr Vautey also emphasised the positive role of technology in allowing general practice to offer the high level of care practitioners wish to, and said the sector should take advantage of new health and social care secretary Matt Hancock’s ‘enthusiasm for technology,’ including apps.
In his opening keynote address at Management in Practice London, Dr Vautrey also emphasised the importance of securing the 11% of the NHS budget that is, in a widely held view, seen as necessary to sustain it. The current proportion is just over 7%.
Dr Vautrey said: ‘We should be [receiving] at least 11%% of the NHS budget, where we were in the past.’
Speaking of the additional £20.5bn a year until 2033/34 that the Government allocated to the NHS earlier this year, Dr Vautrey said that while the funding is welcome, it will not be sufficient.
He applauded the Government’s willingness to set aside additional resources for the NHS, including ‘putting up taxes’ but said that it will ‘still not be enough’.
He also emphasised the lack of funds set aside for GP practices: ‘Where are the resources for general practice? We need a sustainable general practice to provide a good NHS service as a whole’.