Should the NHS go back to the traditional family doctor?
- Credit: PA
Do you know who your GP is? I think I know who my doctor is, but I'm not sure that I've ever seen them.
The NHS has changed a lot since the days of the family doctor who would be on call at all hours of the day.
We now have NHS walk-in centres, a 111 non-emergency phoneline, and A&E departments are increasingly being used by patients with minor illnesses.
But is it time we went back to the traditional family doctor model to deliver a more personal level of care?
This week the EDP reported that the Norfolk 111 service, which is run by the East of England Ambulance Service, is running about £2m a year over budget.
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Commissioners say that the non-emergency health line and out-of-hours service, which launched in December 2012, is performing well and hitting targets.
However, news that the service is struggling to operate within its budget is a worry, given that NHS Direct had to pull out of a number of 111 contracts last year because of financial problems.
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My family's experiences of NHS 111 have been mixed in recent months. I could not fault the service last year when I called about my ill son and got an appointment at the community hospital in Norwich within an hour.
However, my grandmother, who lives near Norwich, had to wait all day for an out-of-hours GP to come to her aid on Saturday.
I'm glad that I've never had to see my GP because of good health. No one expects a GP to work 24 hours a day, but it would be good to know that when I need to see a doctor that they know a bit about my background and medical history. It is good to see that health chiefs are moving back towards a more personalised model of healthcare and from April all patients aged 75 and over will have a named GP to coordinate their care.
The government pledged a lot of money last year to acute hospitals and accident and emergency departments to help meet winter pressures.
However, the extra investment could be better spent in primary care and extending GP surgery hours to ease pressure on A&Es and reduce unplanned admissions.