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NEWS: Ten minute GP appointment “obsolete”

by in GP Practice Management, News

Future GPs will be able to spend more time with their patients who have complex needs, according to a new document published today.

The Royal College of GPs’ Fit for the Future – a vision of what general practice will look like in 2030 – predicts the end to the 10-minute appointment as well as a raft of other changes that will deliver improvements in patient care.

The college says it is essential to end the ten minute appointment and reorganise general practice so that doctors can spend more time with patients.

The document, for which more than 3,000 GPs, health professionals and patients were consulted, also predicts that there will be an overhaul of the GP-patient record, which will be replaced by a personalised ‘data dashboard’ that will be accessed, accessible by NHS healthcare professionals.

It also believes that GP practices will become ‘wellbeing hubs’ with larger teams offering a wider range of clinical and non-clinical services; that there will be ‘micro-teams’ delivering continuous care; and GP practices will work in clusters, which will allow them to pool resources and people.

AI will also be employed to improve triage systems, claims the report, which also used research commissioned from The King’s Fund.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, described the document as a “vision, not a pipedream.”

“It is abundantly clear that the standard ten-minute appointment is unfit for purpose. It’s increasingly rare for a patient to present with a just single health condition, and we cannot deal with this adequately in ten minutes,” she said.

“GPs we want to deliver truly holistic care to our patients, considering all the physical, psychological and social factors potentially impacting on their health. But this depends on us having more time to spend with patients, and the resources and people to allow us to do this.

“Much of what we envision for the future of our profession we are already embarking upon in some form or another – but we need to make sure that whatever we do is safe, evidence-based and ultimately works to make general practice and the wider NHS more sustainable. In many cases, we’re simply not there, yet.”

The College is to develop four ‘roadmaps’ outlining in more detail what needs to be done to realise its vision and advocating to governments and decision-makers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland how to deliver it.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, welcomed the report, saying it echoed what the BMA had called for.

“This important piece of work from our colleagues at the RCGP mirrors much of what the BMA has been saying for some time about the direction of general practice and what is needed to ensure its future. Most positively it also highlights areas that we’re already making progress on,” he said.

He said the introduction of primary care networks could see practices supporting each other to ensure that more patients get timely, appropriate access to the right professional.

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One Response to “NEWS: Ten minute GP appointment “obsolete””
  1. Avatar
    PM Don Says:

    The 10 minute appointment has always been a fallacy anyway – it was never intended to be a stick to beat the patients with (although many commentators have drawn an inappropriate link to it) but as something on which to base a realistic appointments system for both GPs and patients. The 10 minute figure was arrived at by analysis over many years of how long the “average” appointment lasted, and that was its fundamental basis. The fact is (and it has never changed) that in order to offer something realistic to patients, it must be based on a reasonable expectation of delivery – with the best will in the world, most of us trying to manage the current system spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with the aftermath of a long consultation because of its knock on effects to those that follow – if the future means that we can no longer even have any form of yardstick to work from then we may as well simply halt the appointments system, and make “sit and wait” the only option. Or…

    “What time can I see the GP of my choice?”
    “What time can you make it?”
    “Sometime this afternoon would be good for me”
    “Good for the GP as well – any idea how long you will need to see the GP for?”
    “Nope. I only have 12 issues today, so let’s say…..an hour? No more than 2 though!”
    “No problem at all. Luckily, our new holistic attitude means that we will give you as long as you like – no pressure, no problem!”
    “Gosh I love this system!”
    “I am sure you do. Oh, while you are on the phone, can I just mention – I hate to do it, particularly since we no longer want to be seen as anything other than warm, cuddly and ultra hip and right on – if you are not going to make it, can you let us know please?”
    “Oh, that’s awful of you to say. Just because I missed the last one and I had only asked for 45 minutes………..in fact. make this afternoon a bit longer – because I have just added stress to my list……………”

    And so it goes on. The system turns full circle. Those that do get seen will spend an inordinate amount of time being all holistic and cuddle-some, whilst the rest (and believe it or not Professor – there is a quite a significant demand “out” there”) will just lament the loss of the 10 minute appointment – at least they could get seen within a month or two “back in the day”

    The trouble is that too many that go into the political arena of GP land forget what it is like on the coalface – we all want the best for ourselves and our patients – but until there is an unlimited supply of clinicians available 24/7 and an understanding and cooperative patient base, nothing will change.

    Of course, I shouldn’t be worrying about this at all – by 2030 I will need all the holistic care I can get, so I am just starting to compile my list for the lucky GP practice that gets me in my dotage………….


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