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NEWS: UK GPs unhappy with short appointments

by in GP Practice Management, News

British GPs are unhappy with the quality of care they provide – and struggle to keep up with other wealthy countries, according to a survey published today.

Just 29% of GPs in the UK are happy with the length of appointment they offer to patients, according to the analysis of 11 countries by the Health Foundation. Some 60% of the British doctors reported their job as being very stressful – and 49% reported plans to reduce their hours of work in the next three years.

The findings contrasted with returns from countries such as France, Germany and Canada, where GPs said they spend about 19 minutes with each patient. Report author GP Dr Rebecca Fisher said: “These findings illustrate the pressures faced by general practice, and the strain that GPs are under. This survey shows that over the long term we need concerted action to stabilise general practice.

“Despite performing strongly in some aspects of care, many GPs consider that appointments are simply too short to fully meet the needs of patients. Too many GPs are highly stressed and overburdened – to the point of wanting to leave the profession altogether.”

Dr Gary Howsam, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the findings were “incredibly concerning” and repeated calls for 15 minute appointments. He said: “Being a GP can be the best job in the world and we currently have more GPs in training that ever before – but unless significant steps are taken to make working in general practice more sustainable for existing GPs, they will burn out and leave the profession earlier than planned, and that will benefit nobody.

“GPs want to do their best for their patient but as more people are living with multiple, long-term conditions, standard 10-minute consultations are rarely appropriate to deliver the complex, high-quality care our patients deserve. We often find ourselves trying to cram far too much into ten minutes, not only trying to deliver holistic care, but fitting in the increasing number of things we are expected to do during a consultation. No GP wants to hurry an appointment, and the result of having to doing so is stressful and dissatisfying for the GP and can leave patients feeling as though they have been rushed.”

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “The NHS Long Term Plan means an extra £4.5 billion a year will be invested in primary and community care, supporting the recruitment of 26,000 physios, therapists and other health experts to offer patients more access to specialist care in GP teams. This will build on success developing smarter working which in the last year alone has seen GPs across the country free up an extra half a million hours of time for patients.”

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