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Extend 10-minute GP slots says BMA

Standard 10-minute appointments are not sufficient to deal with complex medical problems related to obesity and ageing, the British Medical Association has said.

Chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: "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.

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

He says that while practice nurses carry out routine checks and give vaccines, "it's the patients with increasing complex needs that GPs have to handle".

However, spending longer on each appointment would require greater investment in surgeries and more doctors and nurses.

He says: "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%. 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


Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I strongly agree that consultation time is lengthened. I work as a nurse practitioner seeing pts in urgent 'same day surgery' 10 min appts. As nurses we are taking on more of the doctors' workload and this is increasing in complexity which adds to stress levels and decrease in the quality of care patients receive" - Chris Aslett, Somerset

"Yes I agree. As an Occupational Health nurse I see patients in the work environment and usually have 30 minute slots, this is often used to deal with things that they should be seeing the practice nurse or GP with. Most clients feel they do not want to waste GP's time" - Helen Moyes

"Really support that idea. It must be very difficult to deal with what is needed. We all know that what is presented may not be the real issue. Consider a teenager who seeks advice on X might also like to discuss contraception/sexual health. Difficult for GPs and nurses alike" - Kathy French, London

"Yes I agree the GP appointment times need to be longer. I am a nurse practitioner and have 15 min appointments which makes it possible to try and have a more holistic approach. Dealing with one problem at a time is not good for patient satisfaction. Complex issues need more time or double
appointments" - Kathleen Grimshaw, Lancs

"Only Access appointments are 8-10 minutes, other appointments can be arranged accordingly. Patients are asked to book one appointment for one problem. Nurses do more complex problems, after the 2004 new contract, some surgeries give 10 minutes to child vaccination even to nurses. GPs should extend their session timing from 2-2.5 hrs and partners should do more sessions and not replaced by locums. They should not take more than one half day and not day in leiu for late evening LES/DES" - Name and address supplied

"As an extremely busy practice nurse dealing with many more patients in a week than a GP does I would gladly have consultation time increased" - Julie McLaughlan, Ayrshire, Scotland