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Working with the community

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 26 August 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:524
  1. Hilary Neve,
  2. Pat Taylor
  1. General practitioner Plymouth PL2 1DS
  2. Research fellow Social Services Research and Information Unit, Portsmouth PO5 3AT

    General practitioners could gain much from greater involvement

    When viewed from hospitals or the Department of Health, general practitioners may seemembedded in their local communities, ideally placed to act as “the patients' advocate.”1 But the view from an underprivileged housing estatemay be that the local practice is just as remote as the local teaching hospital. Althoughthe Health of the Nation asserts that many of the solutions to long term health problems are outside the remit of traditional heath services,2 general practitioners still regard health mainly in terms of the medical needs of individual patients and families. If general practitioners and the primary health care team are fully to represent their patients' wider health needs they will need to find ways of relating to their communities that go beyond merely understanding the epidemiological data.

    “Community” implies a shared interest or geographical locality.3 If the primary health care team is to work more closely with local people it will have to consider what communities exist within its practice population. If it is going to ask people their views it will need to value the replies and be prepared to look for ways of responding to them. It will have to recognise how people become motivated to learn about health and the value of peer group support in this process.4 In future, health professionals …

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