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Physicians' role will change to meet patients' needsBMA wants national standards for community care(pounds sterling)300 000 allocated for research on medical educationBMA backs EU commissioner's antismoking initiativeDoctors can make computers workGovernment appoints commission on human genetic

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 14 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1558
  1. Linda Beecham

    Physicians' role will change to meet patients' needs

    District general hospitals will continue to play a major role in caring for patients who are acutely ill and need complex investigation and management. In its report Future Patterns of Care by General and Specialist Physicians the Royal College of Physicians recommends the retention of the acute general hospital serving between 200 000 and 300 000 people. The district general hospital of the future will provide care for the emergency admission and subsequent care of acutely ill patients round the clock.

    The college says that in the medical disciplines at least 70–80% of beds are occupied by patients admitted urgently or as emergencies. In some district general hospitals the figure is nearer 95%—a figure which the college says must not be ignored in proposals for bed reductions.

    The report says that while there has been a drift towards highly specialised physicians over the past two decades the balance is now returning towards the generalist. The college says that in the future both the general and specialist physician will need to play a key role in secondary care and suggests that there may also be a need for a new kind of physician with specific responsibilities for medical emergencies.

    Physicians of the future are likely to work in teams with other healthcare workers, collaborating with general practitioners in following jointly developed guidelines, and in outreach clinics where appropriate.

    As the hours worked by junior doctors fall more direct care will be delivered by consultants …

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