Quick turnaround GP appointments are 'running general practice into the ground'

BMA says doctors cannot treat patients properly under the current recommended 10-minute limit per consultation

Hannah Stubbs
Tuesday 30 August 2016 02:10 BST
GP appointments are normally 10 minutes, meaning that some doctors see up to 60 patients a day.
GP appointments are normally 10 minutes, meaning that some doctors see up to 60 patients a day. (Getty)

GP appointments should be lengthened to 15 minutes and limited to 25 a day per doctor, industry leaders have said.

The British Medical Association (BMA) suggested the changes in a bid to stop general practice being “run into the ground”.

The proposals come as part of Safe Working Levels in General Practice, a report that discusses measures which could help tackle GPs' growing workload.

Appointments are normally allocated 10 minutes, meaning that some doctors see up to 60 patients a day.

The BMA said this does not give GPs enough time to treat patients who have complicated needs.

BMA GPs committee executive team member Brian Balmer said: “In a climate of staff shortages and limited budgets, GP practices are struggling to cope with rising patient demand, especially from an ageing population with complicated, multiple health needs that cannot be properly treated within the current 10-minute recommended consultation.

“Many GPs are being forced to truncate care into an inadequate timeframe and deliver an unsafe number of consultations, in some cases seeing 40 to 60 patients a day.

“This is well above the 25 consultations per day, which is the recommended level in many other EU countries.”

The report also recommends the introduction of “locality hubs” – a central facility where demand, patient lists and safe working limits would be managed for a number of local practices – as GPs could benefit from the way pressure would be taken off individual practices.

Dr Balmer added: “We need a new approach that shakes up the way patients get their care from their local GP practice.

“The consultation time needs to increase to 15 minutes, with the Government providing on its promised funding to make this work.

“As part of the package, more GPs must be put in front of patients so the number of consultations per GP a day falls to a sustainable level.

“We need to learn from best practice across the UK and look at options, where appropriate, for organising GP practices into hubs, where knowledge and resources can be shared.

“General practice in the UK cannot be allowed to continue being run into the ground: it's time for positive change that gives patients the care they deserve.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “How long to allocate to individual patient appointments is at the discretion of individual GP practices, based on patient need, and there are no national limits suggesting 10 minutes should be the norm.

“However, GPs are under pressure, so the recently published General Practice Forward View is substantially increasing investment and reforming care to free up GPs to spend more time with patients.”

Press Association

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in