Our vision: to transform access to medical care.

We like the facts we agree with

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.

Harry Longman

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


3 responses to “We like the facts we agree with”

  1. Chris Frith says:

    Doctors like the challenge of difficult work not mundane work ie they like work not workload hence they like a computer doing the routine stuff better than a person who puts their personal spin on a patients history.
    Keep up the great work.

  2. Harry Longman says:


    Deprivation needs to be the focus

    Some would say Poverty is treated with Prozac and painkillers all too often since there is little else a go can offer
    (anonymous GP)

  3. Harry Longman says:

    From Angus Tallini:
    Very neat and impressive study on list size and the deprivation confounder- thank you for this
    What would be interesting over the next few years is to study whether larger federations which include more deprived areas eg Vitality, Hurley group change that or not

    I suspect you are right and the answer is not: structure won’t solve the underlying population health usage, and there needs to be a culture shift where the inverse care law is challenged. This is more about public health which remains stubbornly reticent, or at least stuck in the 1950s with their campaigns using scare tactics about cancer. Fear puts the right people off seeking healthcare, while driving the worried well screaming for a same day GP appointment. And how do we access the unworried unwell?

    We need a more positive and inclusive model of public health to strengthen links with primary care for those populations who haven’t even heard of a GP practice, using the best available social networking and community based innovations. Last week at the Expo, I got that feeling from Andy Knox in Carnforth, Chris Jones in W Wakefield…but where are the public health leaders??

    Thanks again for your excellent work and campaign to keep us all thinking
    All the best

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