In order to do this general practitioners must

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working in general practice

In the UK, private health care provision exists, but most people are treated within the National Health Service (NHS), which provides free health care. Primary care within the National Health Service is provided by general practitioners (GPs) who work in practices / clinics called surgeries. Secondary care is provided by hospitals. The general doctors who work in hospitals are called general physicians. Most people in the UK are registered with a general practitioner. There are just over 40,000 general practitioners in the UK and about 250 million consultations every year.

In some general practitioner practices there is only one general practitioner, but this is increasingly rare as many now work in teams with other general practitioners and health professionals like practice nurses, district nurses, and midwives.

General practitioners diagnose illness, treat minor illness within the community, promote better health, prevent disease certify disease, monitor chronic disease and refer patients who need specialist attention or tests to a hospital. General practice is the primary point of access to health care services.

Although 80% of patients have seen their general practitioner within the last year, only 13% are referred for hospital care.

In order to do this general practitioners must:

  • have a working knowledge of the whole breadth of medicine

  • maintain ongoing relationships with their patients -they are the only doctors to remain with their patients through sickness and health

  • focus on patients' response to illness rather than the illness itself, taking account of personality, family patterns, and the effect of these on the presentation of symptoms

  • be interested in the ecology ( i.e. the science of organisms as affected by their environments) of health and illness within communities and the cultural determinants of health beliefs

  • be able to draw on a far wider range of resources than are taught in medical school, including intuition, knowledge of medicine, communication skills, business skills, and human empathy.

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