Welcome to Health of the Nation, our bi-annual comprehensive study of GPs’ views on the nation’s health. Our research explores GPs views on the National Health Service, their own practices, trends they’re seeing in the UK’s health issues and patient’s attitudes towards health and wellbeing.
We’ve also asked GPs to feedback their personal views on the impact of the Health and Social Care Act – one of the most radical sets of reforms in over 60 years. Our findings are significant, offering a clear insight into the need for more patient-focused solutions all round.
This most recent report highlights that GPs views remain as important as ever, especially pertinent as the NHS moves into a period of great financial and organisational uncertainty and GPs will be at the heart of delivering the Government’s controversial reforms. As in previous years, our research also highlights a number of areas where GPs think the NHS could improve services for patients, such as with obesity and mental health.
GPs remain focused on patient care but still don’t have enough time to spend with patients - GPs say they are being prevented from spending quality time with patients by the persistent issue of too much paperwork. This is an issue they feel will get worse with the introduction of clinical commissioning.
Embracing new technologies to help manage patients’ health – GPs are generally supportive of new technologies such as the internet and smartphone apps. However, they need more convincing about telehealth.
Views of the NHS reforms – GPs attitudes are changing towards the reforms although there’s still work to be done to win their hearts and minds. Just under a third still say they’ve no confidence in the Government’s plans, down from 51% in our last Health of the Nation report (PDF 539KB).
Quality of NHS care is getting better but there’s still room for improvement – GPs recognise the progress made in the treatment of heart disease, cancer and stroke but there’s still some way to go for conditions such as mental health, obesity and drug and alcohol addiction.
Obesity will be the biggest public health issue next year – 80% of GPs say that they’ve seen an increase in childhood obesity over the past five years. Sedentary lifestyles, poor diet and lack of parental guidance are to blame.
There’s a need for more support for mental health conditions – over three quarters of GPs say they’ve seen an increase in the number of patients with mental health conditions – yet long waiting lists mean that access to psychological therapies is still limited. As with obesity, GPs are reporting an increase in childhood mental health issues.