The UK’s 43,000 GPs are truly the cornerstone of the NHS. They deal with 90% of all patient contacts – more than 300 million consultations every year. They also write the vast majority of the 1 billion-plus prescriptions dispensed annually.
GPs work under extreme time pressure, typically conducting 40 to 60 patient contacts in a single day. Their work ranges from dealing with minor illnesses through to orchestrating holistic care for tens of millions of older people with multiple long-term conditions. Staying up to date with the fast-changing clinical evidence base is an enormous challenge.
GPs are under mounting pressure to reduce rates of outpatient referrals and emergency hospital admissions. Yet they must be on constant guard for the ‘red flag’ symptoms that might indicate a serious – even life-threatening - illness that warrants urgent specialist input. Dealing with uncertainty and managing risk is a constant.
At the core of general practice, GP partners run the majority of the UK’s 10,000 practices as small businesses contracted to provide an ever-expanding array of NHS services. Alongside them work a growing band of salaried GPs and sessional locums.