Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Covid 19: a fork in the road for general practice

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 28 September 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3709

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Rapid Response:

The road behind

Dear Editor

It's hard to argue against the sentiments of continuity of care, longer consultations and empathy put forward by Gray et. al. but it’s also hard to reconcile this wish list with the trend for flexible working, early retirement and increasing burnout. Of course, these issues have been decades in the making and despite foreseeing the litany of problems, it feels that few things were done to avert our trajectory. The idea that Covid 19 has created an opportune fork in the road for primary care to get back on track is an attractive one but ignores that the pandemic may instead be the knife severing the path behind. There is no turning back.

The increasing reliance of technology not only in primary care but all aspects of healthcare has been incessant. Continuity of care has been replaced with continuity of record. An informal home visit by a scheduling book. A kind word with a text reminder. If our past is anything to go by, the technology employed during the pandemic will be embraced since the current system of healthcare delivery conflates empathy with efficiency. Compassionate care comes at a cost yet we continue to exploit computers as our currency.


1 Covid 19: a fork in the road for general practice

2. The state of medical education and practice in the UK The workforce report 2019

3. Rise in GPs taking early retirement

4. Burnout among doctors

Competing interests: Blogger at

30 September 2020
Sati Heer-Stavert
Birmingham, UK