GPs: patients need more than ten minutes – appointment systems need alerts to allow receptionists to spot the rare attenders..

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The time window is “out of date” and should be substantially increased, the British Medical Association said.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.

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, General Practitioners, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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