Government dividing doctors?22nd June 2007
A joint survey of nearly 2,000 doctors by Doctor/Hospital Doctor magazines has found many in the profession think the government is causing divisions between consultants and GPs.
42% of the respondents thought relationships between GPs and consultants had worsened over the past five years. 61% thought the major contributing change in the deterioration of the relationship was due to NHS reforms.
The poll demonstrated a clear divide in the views of GPs and consultants. In response to the question: "Who wields more power in the NHS?" 65% of consultants thought GPs had the most power and 45% of GPs said that consultants were more powerful. Only 9% of consultants and 18% of GPs opted for their own roles.
In addition, nearly two-thirds of consultants - 62% - felt NHS policy was more likely to be influenced by GP views. 26% of consultants polled saw policy influenced by "both equally", but only 4% thought policy would be affected by consultants' opinions.
The survey indicated that communication was a key factor contributing to the division between hospital doctors and GPs. Nearly a third of GPs - 32% - said "poor communication" was what they found most frustrating in their relationships with consultants. A similar number of consultants - 31% - said they found "referral letters containing insufficient information" most aggravating.
The results showed that many GPs and consultants do not meet face-to-face. Nearly half said they had "hardly ever" or "only once" met local GPs or consultants in a social or educational aspect.
Marianne Huggett, writing in Hospital Doctor magazine, says the communication skills doctors use with their patients are "urgently required" across the two disciplines.
In her view: "the key to cracking this communication breakdown is to get GPs and consultants to see how changing communication practices will have benefits both for them and patients."
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