GPs need a new care model to deal with growing demand and their own falling numbers, a new report has said.
According to the Deloitte UK Centre for Health Solutions, primary care is facing the retirement of many GPs combined with increasing numbers of elderly and chronically ill patients.
To deal with these challenges, the report argues, primary care needs to focus on community healthcare, patient self-management and new technology.
The demand challenge is well understood: the ageing population and the growing prevalence of long-term health conditions.
However, the report highlights a supply challenge: 10,000 GPs intend to retire within five years, while increasing numbers work part-time. Practice nurses, who are increasingly relied on, show a similar demographic.
The number of entrants to the primary care sector has fallen, while changes in employment regulations mean that recruiting qualified practitioners from overseas will be impossible.
The new commissioning role of GPs will increase strain on primary care, the report notes, with GPs facing unfamiliar responsibilities and performance management systems as well as severe financial constraints.
Karen Taylor, Research Director at the Deloitte Centre, commented: “GPs need to adopt new models of care, using new technology and other practice staff more effectively, working closely with patients to provide more care in the community, with an emphasis on shared decision-making and self-management.
“GPs will still need to act as gatekeepers, but also, increasingly, as care navigators.”