Many GPs say they have missed diagnoses because appointment slots are too short to assess patients properly, according to a new survey.
In the survey, 30% of GPs said that appointment times should be at least 20 minutes – and 70% said they needed at least 15 minutes.
Some 200 doctors took part in a survey organised by a law firm Slater and Gordon. About a third said they had failed to make proper diagnoses because of shortage of time with patients.
The Royal College of GPs said the findings showed how more resource is needed in general practice.
Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “When you consider that very few patients now come to us with just one health-related condition, and that we are increasingly up against the clock in consultations, this is simply not possible and in some cases it could be unsafe.
“We know that GPs and our teams are working under intense resource and workforce pressures and as a result, hard-working, experienced family doctors are burning out, and leaving the profession earlier than they would have done. These must be addressed, not just to keep general practice – and the wider NHS – sustainable, but for our patients’ safety.
“We have called for 15-minute appointments as a standard, with longer for those patients with complex health needs who need it.
“But with GP workload soaring, falling numbers of family doctors, and patients waiting longer for appointments, we need more resources and an expanded workforce to make these longer consultations feasible – otherwise it will only add to pressures and serve to undermine patients’ ability to access the care that they need.”