Oliver Moody reveals the “rape” of the GP consultation which is increasingly happening for elderly people in an undercapacity system. GPs: patients need more than ten minutes. NHSreality knows of few other countries which pretend to deliver quality in 10 minutes. When appointments were readily available it might have seemed reasonable to build up a picture over several appointments, but now a patient might be refused as likely as get an appointment. Access is so bad that doctors realise they need to take a full history and do a full examination at the first opportunity, and feel this stressfully. The old adage of “living with uncertainty” is being eroded in a litigious society. A friend who never attends recently phoned his GP with cough, fever, anorexia and slight shortness of breath, and was told he could not be seen for 4 days… When he attended Casualty that evening he had pneumonia… He could have died. GP appointment systems need alerts to allow receptionists to spot the rare attenders..
The ten-minute consultations most GPs offer their patients are “impossible” against the backdrop of a surge in chronic and complex illnesses, according to doctors.
The time window is “out of date” and should be substantially increased, the British Medical Association said.
GPs typically spend eight to ten minutes on each appointment, according to the NHS, and some face a “conveyor belt” of as many as 60 patients a day.
Doctors and senior figures in the health service feel the slots are not long enough for patients with complex illnesses, and studies have suggested that the limit can delay cancer diagnoses.
In a survey of almost 16,000 GPs published earlier this year, the BMA found that only 8 per cent felt that the ten-minute slots were long enough.
The survey found that a third of GPs were considering retiring within the next five years, which led Chaand Nagpaul, the chairman of the BMA’s GP committee, to warn of a “catastrophic workforce time-bomb”. Meanwhile, almost three quarters struggled to give patients their full attention because of the excessive workload they faced.
The BMA also warned that safety was being put at risk by exhausted hospital consultants who could not catch up on sleep after nights on call.