Some issues can’t be solved just by throwing money at them. One such issue is the GP crisis in the UK where around 150 GPs are quitting every month. Low morale and early retirement, coupled with insufficient GP recruitment by the UK Government, are forcing the UK’s healthcare system to its knees.
The following infographic shows the main reasons why GPs are leaving the NHS at a rate of around 150 per month. It seems that the “jewel in the crown of the NHS”, described as such by none other than Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, as recently as 2015, is fast fading.
Sources [see end of article].
A big part of the solution
Throwing money at GPs may address some of the issues. But, ultimately it depends what the money is spent on. Nowhere in any of the plans is there any real attempt to provide fundamental reform to deal with the embedded flaw in the delivery of orthodox medicine at the primary care level, which still centrally revolves around diagnosis of a condition and treatment of symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs. These problems are far from limited to the UK – they are a global phenomenon linked to the Western healthcare delivery model.
Among the changes that are needed are the following:
Disease prevention. Implementation of effective chronic disease prevention strategies that empower and motivate the public to take individual responsibility for health
Treat early in the disease cycle. Applying effective treatment strategies with minimum risk of adverse effects at the earliest possible point in the disease cycle. These treatments are most likely to involve dietary and lifestyle modification given their effectiveness and safety profiles.
Motivate and empower the public. Creating and delivering tools and motivators that help empower individuals to take responsibility for their own health and to maximise the effectiveness of self-care.
Change the medical curriculum. Evidence-informed modification of the medical curriculum for primary care physicians to include pre-clinical disease diagnosis and treatment strategies to significantly reduce the incidence of commonly encountered diseases.
Reframe health authority advice. Presently Government advice on healthy eating does not align closely with the available evidence, such as in relation to carbohydrate and dietary fat advice. There are also many elements of information missing from advice, such as the creation of harmful compounds (e.g. polyaromatic hydrocarbons, heterocyclic amines) from certain cooking methods or the risks associated with particular food groups (e.g. processed meats and cancer risk). Public advice needs to be entirely reframed on the basis of known benefits and risks.
There are a multitude of other factors that need changing too, and these will be more fully considered in the White Paper we are presently developing for presentation to the UK Government given the opportunities and challenges presented by Brexit.
The overall approach will have application well beyond the shores of the UK.
Have your say
If you’d like to offer solid, evidence-informed ideas about how the pressure might be taken off the primary care system – either in the UK or anywhere else – please email us at [email protected] with the subject line “GP crisis”. Thank you.