Patient choice has been on the agenda for some considerable time now. Yet today the results of the consultation on opening up GP boundaries revealed that those users who responded were keen to see greater flexibility in the system. This naturally, has been met with resistance from professionals. The argument is that it would break continuity of care and have an effect upon the GPs relationship with their local community.
Yet change there must be. As the population becomes more consumer aware with regard to health they will not be content to stick with the status quo. They will demand more choice, increased flexibility with the ability to determine how and when they receive care, which they pay for through their taxes.
It is time for GPs and healthcare professionals to follow the direction of travel of acute services, offer greater flexibility to those it serves and be more responsive to demand from the public. If this is difficult within current structures then maybe we should be reviewing the models of care we have in place.
If the patient is at the centre of all we do then health care providers need to pay more attention to what the patient wants and give serious change the way they deliver care or they will begin to be seen as self-serving and not responsive to change.
Julia Manning and Gail Beer