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BMA urges GPs to move to 15-minute consultations and close patient list

by Costanza Pearce
25 October 2021

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The BMA has advised practices to immediately start offering consultations of 15 minutes or more; and apply to close their patient list, as part of the fightback against the Government’s new GP access plan.

It set out a range of measures GPs should take to protect their staff and patients and ‘prioritise’ core work amid pressure to return to pre-pandemic ways of working.

In an email bulletin sent to GPs on Friday, the BMA’s GP Committee said that practices ‘should not feel pressured to return to a traditional 10-minute treadmill of face-to-face consultations that are neither good for patients nor clinicians’.

It said: ‘Instead, they should offer patients consultations that are 15 minutes or more [and] apply to close the practice list to focus on the needs of existing patients.’

Other actions it recommended are to:

  • stop all non-GMS work to give priority to GMS work
  • reject all shifted work from secondary care that has not been properly commissioned
  • not accept additional NHS 111 referrals above the contractual one per 3,000 patients
  • stop unnecessary cost-based prescribing audits to focus on quality care
  • decline to do additional extended access sessions to focus on the core work of the practice.

The GPC will ‘provide more guidance in the coming days on what practices could do if NHSE/I and the Government fail to take the action needed to properly support general practice’, it added.

It also encouraged practices to review the BMA’s paper on ‘workload control in general practice’.

This comes as it is ‘clear that neither the Government nor NHSE/I understands the scale of the crisis impacting general practice, or have provided the necessary measures to support the profession at this critical time’, the GPC said.

Last week, the BMA announced that it has rejected NHS England’s GP access plan and called on practices to ‘disengage from the PCN DES’ – including by submitting undated resignations from it to LMCs.

It also announced that it intends to ballot the profession on industrial action regarding NHS England’s imposition of ‘pay transparency’ and Covid medical exemption certification.

In the new bulletin, the GPC added that by asking GPs and LMCs to ‘disengage’ with the implementation of the access plan, it meant they should not ‘comply’ with the ‘bully charter’.

Complying would ‘involve spending more time on bureaucratic processes, and complying with target driven leagues tables to ‘name and shame’ GPs’, it said.

The Government’s £250m ‘support’ package for GPs – which set out a range of measures to improve access to practices – was met with fierce criticism from GPs and their leaders.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey described the package as the health secretary beating GPs with ‘a big stick’.

This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.