Intended for healthcare professionals

Analysis And Comment Visions of primary care in 2015

Good general practitioners will continue to be essential

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 05 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:41
  1. Mayur Lakhani, chairman (,
  2. Maureen Baker, honorary secretary1
  1. 1 Royal College of General Practitioners, London SW1 7PU
  1. Correspondence to: M Lakhani

    The forthcoming white paper is certain to result in changes in primary care, but the nature and effect of the reforms is unclear. We asked some people with an interest in general practice to predict the future

    What will English primary care look like in 2015? The proposed new white paper on health and community services in England1 will affect all of our futures—public, patients, and health professionals. The future is uncertain, but we can be sure that people will still get sick, or think they may be sick, and then they will value care from a doctor they know and who knows them. We present a vision of a values based, patient centred primary healthcare system that is consistently of high quality, safe, accessible, and accountable. We recognise that our aspiration will require considerable investment, system reform, and support for implementation but believe that it is a much needed yet achievable model to improve patient care.

    What is primary care?

    Primary care has been defined as: “The first level contact with people taking action to improve health in a community. In a system with a gatekeeper, all initial (non-emergency) consultations with doctors, nurses or other health staff are termed primary care as opposed to secondary health care or referral services.”2 International comparisons of healthcare systems have shown that the United Kingdom ranks highly on scores of primary care orientation, and countries with good primary care systems show improvement in the health of individuals and populations, together with greater satisfaction with care.3

    Within the NHS general practice is a central component of primary care. General practice is defined as: “An academic and scientific discipline, with its own educational content, research base and clinical activity, orientated to primary care and built on fundamental principles.”4

    Patients' values

    Values …

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