So began Eric van der Burg, alderman of the city of Amsterdam, welcoming us to the European Forum for Primary Care. “I’m a politician. I like the facts I agree with.” I like that, a politician with a sense of irony, and the truth is he’s speaking for all of us.
He continued with his concerns about population health, the rise in obesity, aging, long term conditions, and the role of the local authority in prevention. Advertising more fruit? No, an environment which promotes activity, cycling, public spaces and support in the community.
This was his continuing vision, in a city where in my 10 minute walk I’d seen uncountable bicycles. No lycra, no helmets, simply all ages, male and female, going about their normal life, feeling secure and loving it. Walking around new suburbs to the north, I was struck by the design on a human scale, calm, quiet, attractive. And long term good for health.
When faced with the problems of today, let’s not lose the long view. It may take years, but change in the right direction will be worth it and we are starting from a good place. The NHS is held in high regard in Europe, particularly for primary care. International comparisons place it highly for universal and free access, although not so highly for efficiency*.
Addressing that question I presented a poster with our findings on productivity with online access. And on the organisation of primary care, a piece of research I did looking at practice list size and secondary care use. Read to the end. This surprised me, and 78% of the audience guessed wrong too. But then, we aren’t politicians, we can look at the evidence, we don’t have to choose the facts we agree with.
PS King’s Fund hit the spot with this conference:
Pressure points: how can we support primary care to cope with increasing demand?
Tuesday 24 November | The King’s Fund, London W1G 0AN
Find out more here
*”Building primary care in a changing Europe”, Kringos et al, 2015