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BMA calls for longer, fewer GP appointments

30 August 2016

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The British Medical Association (BMA) has proposed that GP appointments be lengthened to 15 minutes with a limited target of 25 each day.

In a bid to stop general practice being “run into the ground” the BMA has published Safe Working Levels in General Practice to discuss ways of tackling GPs’ excessive workload.

Brian Balmer, BMA GPs committee executive team member, 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.

Balmer adds that GPs are forced to “truncate care” in to 10-minute slots and see between 40 and 60 patients a day, exceeding the 25 consultation limit in place in other EU countries.

The report also considers the potential impact of “locality hubs” – a central facility where demand, patient lists and safe working limits would be managed for a number of local practices.

The BMA suggests GPs could benefit from the integration, collaboration and flexible employment patterns that could be offered through hubs.

The BMA report says the hubs would be open long enough to allow for sufficient patient access and same-day appointments would be offered within safe working limits.

Those limits, the report says, would include lengthening appointment times to 15 minutes and giving GPs a target of 115 appointments per week.

This hub model was featured in the GP Forward View, which included £500 million of recurrent funding to provide extra primary care capacity.

The plans also outlined a £171 million one-off investment by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) from 2017/18 for practice transformational support.

Balmer said: “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.

He added: “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.”

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