A study published in the British Journal of General Practice has found that it is becoming increasingly difficult for patients to get appointments with their GP of choice.

According to an analysis of responses to the national GP patient survey, relationship continuity dropped 27 percent between 2012 and 2017.

The authors stress that increased relationship continuity in primary care is associated with better health outcomes, greater patient satisfaction, and fewer hospital admissions, but that they found a “marked and widespread” decline in relationship continuity of care.

This study also found a moderate correlation between continuity and good overall experiences for patients, which falls in line with the perception that continuity is linked with higher patient satisfaction and greater patient trust, noted Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGPs).

"Continuity of care can be particularly beneficial for the growing number of patients who are living with multiple, long-term conditions. But unfortunately, it is becoming harder and harder to deliver as GPs and our teams work under incredibly intense resource and workforce pressures,” she added.

“It's disappointing but understandable to read that, according to this paper, continuity of care is reducing, but GPs across the country are striving to provide continuity, even if not in the traditional sense.”

For example, she noted that some practices are employing “innovative approaches to continuity of care” under which patients are able to see and build relationships with a small team of doctors who all have access to their medical records.