Recently, a Norwegian study has highlighted the importance of a continuous relationship between patient and doctor, improving the general level of care and potentially saving lives. This study’s timing is particularly interesting considering the prime minister’s announcement this week that family doctors would be at the forefront of the Omicron-beating booster drive, putting face-to-face GP appointments under yet more pressure.
The research, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found that individuals who have had the same GP for more than 15 years have a 25% lower risk of death than those patients seeing a new doctor in the first year. They also have a lower risk of needing to go to A&E or be hospitalised.
“GPs are specialists for their patients. It can make it easier to detect changes in the patient and avoid exposing them to unnecessary and dangerous examinations,” the study’s author Professor Hogne Sandvik commented.
The benefits of the ongoing GP and patient relationship
This recent research confirmed the findings of an earlier UK study. Researchers at the Exeter University medical school analysed data from nine countries with different health systems and found that people who saw the same doctor had significantly lower death rates.
Reasons for this are that they are more likely to follow medical advice, particularly concerning making necessary lifestyle changes, and access other preventative care such as immunisations.
Continuity of care means that a patient can feel more comfortable discussing problems or sharing very personal information. Your GP will be able to accumulate knowledge over time that allows them to shape their advice and treatment plans for the patient’s individual needs. They will also be best placed to identify any emerging health conditions or symptoms that are of concern.