See­ing dif­fer­ent doc­tors ‘hurts health of el­derly’

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Henry Bod­kin

EL­DERLY peo­ple who are passed around dif­fer­ent GPS may be at a greater risk of be­ing ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal with sur­prise med­i­cal con­di­tions.

A sur­vey of 10,000 pa­tients by Bris­tol Univer­sity found those un­able to see the same fam­ily doc­tor were more than twice as likely to re­quire emer­gency ad­mis­sion.

Ex­perts be­lieve that pa­tients hav­ing to re­peat their med­i­cal his­tory to each new prac­ti­tioner wastes valu­able min­utes mean­ing symp­toms of se­ri­ous ill­ness go un­de­tected.

The re­search, pub­lished in the An­nals of Fam­ily Medicine, comes amid the in­creas­ing con­glom­er­a­tion of GP surg­eries into so-called “su­per-prac­tices”, which is ex­pected to cut the chances of see­ing the same doc­tor.

Re­searchers looked at data re­lat­ing to pa­tients aged 65 and older across 297 prac­tices from 2010 to 2015, which they cross-ref­er­enced with hos­pi­tal records. They fo­cused on older pa­tients as they see their GP more fre­quently and are most at risk of emer­gency hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sion.

Dr Peter Tammes, who led the re­search, said: “Dis­con­ti­nu­ity of care re­duces the op­por­tu­nity for build­ing trust and mu­tual re­spon­si­bil­ity be­tween doc­tors and pa­tients.

“If you see the same doc­tor, you don’t have to re­peat your his­tory ev­ery time and it gives you more time to dis­cuss your con­di­tion.”

He added that pa­tients are of­ten ret­i­cent in de­scrib­ing the full ex­tent of their un­healthy be­hav­iours, such as heavy drink­ing, to un­fa­mil­iar doc­tors.

“If there is trust, the pa­tient is much more will­ing to share more in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

♦al­most half of over-65s in Eng­land are tak­ing at least five dif­fer­ent drugs a day, a Cam­bridge Univer­sity study has found. The fig­ure has risen from just 12 per cent 20 years ago, while the pro­por­tion tak­ing no pills at all dropped from around 20 per cent in the late 1990s to just seven per cent today.

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