What does a GP do?

A general practitioner is a medical doctor who provides and co-ordinates healthcare for individuals together with their families based on the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best available evidence (called Evidence-Based Medicine).

A general practitioner should be able to manage most conditions that most people have, most of the time (Prof D Metcalfe). A few principles broadly illustrate the scope of general practitioners (from McWhinney 1997).

  • Commited to the person rather than to a particular body of knowledge, group of diseases, or a special technique
  • Seeks to understand the context of the patient’s illness
  • Utilises every contact with patients as an opportunity for health prevention and education
  • Takes an interest in the health needs of his/her practice population in their entirety
  • Integrates as part of a community-wide network of supportive and health care agencies
  • Manages and deploys resources in a cost-effective way that benefits the patient
  • Remains a life-long learner to ensure evidence-based medicine principles