The new investigation by the Health Foundation found that patients who have a high continuity of GP care are 12 per cent less likely to be avoidably rushed to hospital than those passed around to various doctors.Despite the potential savings to acute providers, who overspent by at least £2.45 billion last year, continuity of GP care is currently getting worse in England.Rapidly growing GP patient lists due to an ageing population is making it increasingly unlikely a person can rely on seeing the same doctor on multiple visits.The problem is being compounded by the rise of amalgamated “super surgeries”, which are being relied on by tens of thousands of patients.Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The relationship that GPs have with their patients is unique, and in many cases built over time. Delivering continuity of care is becoming increasingly difficult as GPs and our teams struggle to deal with increased patient demand, with fewer resourcesProfessor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs Allowing patients to continuously see the same GP would slash the number of unnecessary visits to hospital and save the NHS billions, according to a new study.Research published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests that a trusting relationship with a designated family doctor prompts better clinical decisions because patients are more open about their problems.Previous research has shown that emergency hospital admissions for conditions which are manageable in a local surgery cost the NHS at least £1.42 billion a year. Efforts to tackle unnecessary hospital admissions have focused principally on improving access to GPs surgeries in general, such as by extending opening hours or introducing home calls.This, however, could be having the unintended consequence of multiplying the number of family doctors any one patient is likely to meet, found the BMJ study.The new research analysed the medical records of 230,000 patients aged between 62 and 82-years-old between April 2011 and March 2013.The researchers focused on older patients because they account for a high proportion of both GP consultations and potentially avoidable hospital admissions.The findings reported in the BMJ are supported by an intervention by University of Bristol Scientists which states that a primary care system that is increasingly fragmented “provides the setting for patients to choose to attend an emergency department instead”.Last month, at the height of the winter overcrowding in hospitals, former Conservative Health Secretary and NHS Confederation chair Stephen Dorrell said most people were heading to A&E because it was “the only place with the lights on”. Where they end up: weaknesses in primary care funnels patients to hospitalCredit:Andrew Matthews “Good continuity of care can be particularly beneficial to the growing number of patients who are living with multiple, long-term conditions.“But delivering continuity of care is becoming increasingly difficult as GPs and our teams struggle to deal with increased patient demand, with fewer resources, and not enough GPs or practice staff.” His comments followed reports that one fifth of GP surgeries were closed for at least one afternoon a week. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.