What are General Practitioners (GPs)?

General Practitioner (GP) is a medical doctor who specializes in providing primary care for patients with a wide range of health issues, including but not limited to routine check-ups, common illnesses, and chronic conditions Their practice covers many things in the world of healthcare; they aren’t limited to any specific organ or disease, hence the name.

General practitioners are also referred to as Family Doctors or Primary Care Physicians. Primary care is basic health care provided by doctors who address a wide range of medical issues before the need for specialized treatment. GPs work in primary care.

According to the Careers Section of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS):

“General practitioners (GPs) treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment.”

Key responsibilities

A general practitioner has several responsibilities, for example:

  • Diagnosis and Treatment

They are responsible for diagnosing and treating various health conditions, including infections, injuries, and chronic diseases.

  • Preventive Care

General practitioners play a major role in preventive care. They offer advice on healthy living, immunizations, and look out for the early signs of dangerous illnesses.

  • Patient Education

Educating patients about their health conditions and treatment options is a key part of a GP’s role.

  • Referrals

They also refer patients to more specialized doctors when more complex care is required.

A general practitioner or GP talking to her patient
Image created by Market Business News.

Importance in healthcare

General practitioners hold a pivotal role in the healthcare system due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • First point of contact

The GP is often the first healthcare provider a patient sees and is therefore essential for the early stages of diagnosis and therapy.

  • Continuity of care

In most cases, they provide care to patients over many years. This allows them to get to know the people they treat and their medical histories.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

Since GPs manage common health issues, they reduce the need for more specialized and expensive healthcare services.

  • Community health

They contribute significantly to the overall health of the community by managing public health issues and outbreaks.


A general practitioner faces many problems, including:

  • Workload and time pressure

Managing a large of number of patients with a variety of health issues can be quite challenging.

  • Keeping up with Medical Advancements

Maintaining current with medical and technological advancements requires ongoing education and adaptation.

  • Resource Restrictions

The difficulties faced by General Practitioners due to lack of resources and support are indeed a significant concern in many parts of the world. This challenge is intricately linked to the broader context of the healthcare system, particularly as it relates to the rapid advancement in medical innovation and its implications.

Medical science’s progress has greatly expanded treatment options, improving patient outcomes and extending life expectancy. However, these advancements also lead to higher healthcare costs.

Written by Nicolas Perez Diaz