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GP appointments “need to be twice current time limit”

3 December 2009

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Doctors are calling for the average GP consultation to be made longer, to around 15 or 20 minutes, in order to deal with a population with increasingly complex medical problems.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), said that the current 10 minutes allocated to patients is not long enough to handle all of patients’ problems, including ageing, obesity and mental health.

He said: “It’s the patients with increasing complex needs that GPs have to handle, despite the fact that nurses can do some routine practices like administering vaccines.

“With people living longer, and being more likely to suffer from comorbidities, the sort of work that GPs are doing is increasingly complex, and the standard 10 minute appointment is not sufficient,” he said.

“We would like to see 15 to 20-minute appointments – much longer than is currently possible.”

However, longer consultations would mean more doctors and nurses are needed, which in turn would mean more money would have to be spend on doctors’ surgeries.

“If you are going to be increasing the length of consultations by 50% then you are going to increase the length of doctors’ consultation time by 50%,” Dr Meldrum said.

“In that case you are talking about a significant increase in the number of doctors.

“We accept that there will be a cost there, but it’s an aspiration, an important aspiration. It’s something that we want to be moving towards.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Medical Association