The CoViD-19 pandemic is affecting every aspect of society. Obviously, it also affects healthcare provision. There are strong tendencies towards fragmentation of care. Digital technologies as a mean to tackle CoViD-19 induced restrictions are gaining importance. Conflicting interests are influencing the patients´ choices of services and treatments, but also those offered by health professionals to their patients. Working conditions and preferences of family doctors are rapidly changing. Effective teamwork is crucial when serving an ageing population and an increasing number of patients with multimorbidity. Emerging new health professions with different skills and educational backgrounds can strengthen primary care. However, they increase complexity of the system for patients seeking care and treatment. Proper coordination and cooperation supported by appropriate regulation and communication are ever more crucial.
Values of family medicine are continuously challenged, nevertheless our core values keep their importance. They have been intensively discussed during this conference and in advance. During this pandemic, family physicians continue to ascertain access to care, provide person-centred care and ensure the continuity and comprehensiveness of primary oriented care to individuals, and wherever appropriate in the context of their family and community.
The family physicians/general practitioners from 67 countries attending the virtual 25th WONCA Europe Conference in Berlin are fully aware of the unprecedented historic moment we experience. They reaffirm the core values of family medicine. European Family Physicians urge:
- European politicians, governments and decision makers to regulate working conditions in line with our core values of working effectively, person-centred and in balanced teams, in order to ensure that we can provide these services for many years without burnout.
- Family doctors in Europe to commit themselves to providing high-value care and to avoiding over-diagnosis and overtreatment as well as under-diagnosis and under-treatment.
- Health care professionals in Europe to bear in mind the importance of the face-to-face doctor-patient time, and only substitute it with digital technologies when necessary and to provide it when needed.
- WONCA Europe Member Organisations to strengthen family medicine in its leading role in primary health care. This includes inter-professional teams with a responsible and well-trained General Practitioner/Family Physician at the center, with the responsibility to coordinate care across all sectors.
The CoViD-19 pandemic has shown that good primary care is essential for patients and for the healthcare system, particularly in a crisis. General practitioners/family physicians must be adequately involved in all planning and all decision-making concerning the management of this situation and future health care in general. We invite all primary care organizations to join us in these efforts. Signed in Berlin, 19 December 2020