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GPs call for an increase in appointment times

15 April 2015

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GPs need to be freed from the constraints of the ten-minute consultation in order to meet their patients’ needs according to a major British Medical Association (BMA) survey.

The poll, with 15,560 respondents, found that just 8% of GPs feel that the standard ten-minute consultation is adequate, 67% feel there should be longer consultations for certain groups of patients and 25% feel all patients need increased time with their GP. 

Two-thirds (68%) of GPs surveyed said that longer, better quality consultations were more important than waiting times.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP Committee chair, said: “Unfortunately, this landmark poll highlights that GPs ability to care to patients is being seriously undermined by escalating workload, inadequate resourcing and unnecessary paperwork.

“This comes at a time when politicians from all sides are making hollow and unsubstantiated pledges about dramatically increasing the number of GPs within five years, offering guaranteed appointments within 48 hours or funding Sunday opening, when research shows those practices open in this period saw few patients booking an appointment.”

He called for politicians of all parties to “stop playing games with the NHS and making glib promises to voters that ignore the reality that many GP practices are close to breaking point.”

The poll found that nearly all GPs feel that their heavy workload is having a negative impact on the quality of patient services and many practices doubted they had the ability to provide blanket seven-day openings called for by the Conservatives.

Nearly all of those surveyed (93%) said that their heavy workload has negatively impacted on the quality of patient services. 

Almost six out of ten GPs (56%) working in out-of-hours services feel at times their workload is having a detrimental effect on the care they provide. 

In terms of out-of-hours care the respondents were willing to explore options to improve access, with a slight majority of GPs (51%) feeling that practices should offer some form of extended hours to patients.

However 94% do not feel practices should offer seven-day opening in their own practices. But some (21%) did suggest access could be improved by working in networks with other GPs through shared facilities.