The study published recently by Exeter University showed conclusively that having a family doctor for life is crucial for patients. Their key finding was simple but eye-catching – life expectancy increases with the continuity of care provided by seeing the same doctor time after time.
Dr Kannan Athreya took over Essex Private Doctors knowing that patients wanted a return to the comfort of having a true family doctor, someone they could trust and build a relationship with over a period of years.
Here Dr Athreya looks at why the traditional ideal of a ‘family doctor for life’ is not so much a nice to have… but now a confirmed matter of life and death.
The Increasing Tide of Anxiety
Despite all our advances and undoubted improvements in standard of life, it is not uncommon for those of a certain age to fondly think of times past, when life was “simpler”. The instant, on-demand gratification of today may get us rapidly to our destination, but we have lost the experience and fun of the journey. Quite often I have felt that array of choices we have do not seem to have freed us, but trap us in uncertainty over the paths we have taken and decisions made.
This I believe is at the route of so much general anxiety I see today in those who have “never had it so good”. The poisoned chalice of having the power to Google all our symptoms but not having the control to assess logically the results of our enquiries leads us to anxiety.
Knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed. If all we yearn in our lives is bliss then perhaps we undermine the value of ignorance. However, Pandora’s Box is well and truly open…we cannot unlearn what we now know.
Unfortunately, progress and efficiency does not always directly relate to satisfaction. Organising care such that it can be easily quantifiable with statistics and evaluated with questionnaires, though important and necessary, does not prove translatable to general life happiness.
Never have there been more appointments, available, longer hours worked, more treatments discovered, but ask any patient, or any healthcare worker for that matter if they are happy with the system.
Burying staff with paperwork and targets whilst at the same time cutting funding and increasing hours has left a generation of doctors and nurses burnt out and crushed. No-one qualified for this.
A trusted family doctor is key
What do we naturally do when we are troubled? We don’t ask random strangers. We “phone a friend”, seek the advice of trusted counsel.
One of the greatest things we have lost from those “simpler times” is the position of the trusted family doctor. A person that knew us and our families and friends, an honest ally whom we knew acted in our best interest at all times. One who always had time for us, a person that we could present ourselves troubled but depart feeling relieved.
The key findings of the Exeter Study were no surprise, confirming what patients have always said – it is continuity of care and timely access to GP services that matter to them most.
That’s particularly true for people who need to see their GP a lot. The greater the need for medical advice, the greater the desire for a trusted family doctor.
Continuity of Care- Part of our Ethos…
The point is that building this trust and partnership takes time, and there is no short cut to that.
When I took over Essex Private Doctors, I did it with the knowledge that patients yearned for the return to their true family doctor and I wanted to provide a service that reflected that.
Continuity of care, easy access to appointments , the ability to contact easily when in times of need were always qualities that would reduce anxiety and concern and improve quality of life.
It is the ethos of Essex Private Doctors.
If you want to find your family doctor for life, please call our helpful reception team on 01277 201001 to make a consultation appointment with one of our experienced GPs.
They will be happy to help you, you will never feel rushed, and will be at ease to properly discuss your health concerns or illness – and begin building that long-term relationship of trust.