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UK general practice leads the way

10 November 2011

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UK GPs have come top of the class for caring for patients with complex conditions in an international survey on primary care services.

US-based The Commonwealth Fund found 69% of patients surveyed in the UK said they received “good” patient-doctor engagement in care management for chronic conditions.

This is compared to just 22% in Sweden, 23% in Norway and 30% in France.

The UK also scored highest for its quality of care, co-ordination of care, ease of access, patient-doctor relationships, and value for money.

Overall, 88% of patients surveyed described the quality of care in UK general practice as either “excellent” or “very good” – higher than any other country surveyed.

“The Commonwealth Fund Survey shows yet again that the excellent work carried out by GPs in the UK is recognised worldwide, leading the field in providing quality, joined-up care,” said Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College for General Practitioners (RCGP).

“If the current reform of the NHS is to achieve anything, it must preserve and build on the strengths of general practice by producing more GPs, who are trained for longer so that we can do even more to improve the health of our patients.”

Researchers from The Commonwealth Fund said the UK, along with Switzerland, “stood out” for rapid access to primary care and “easy access to after-hours care”.

When asked how quickly they saw a doctor or nurse when last sick, more than seven in ten patients reported same- or next-day appointments in the UK, Switzerland, France, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

In contrast, only half of Swedish and Canadian patients reported such access, and more than one in five waited six days or more.