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GP appointments "too short"

The majority of GPs would like longer appointment times to diagnose patients more effectively, a survey has suggested.

In a poll of 200 GPs, some 43% admitted that time restrictions affected their ability to diagnose, while more than half (57%) said appointment times are shorter now than five years ago.

Almost nine out of 10 GPs said they would prefer double the amount of time with patients - from the current benchmark of 10 minutes per person.

The Aviva UK Health research also found that 96% of GPs use the web each day.

Some 85% use online tools to help with diagnosis, it found, but only 5% say this is because they feel hurried and overstretched.

A separate study carried out last month found 63% of people thought NHS appointments were always rushed.

Dr Laurence Buckman, Chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, said: "The BMA, and many patients, believe appointment times should be longer because we know GPs would like to have more time to care for their patients.

"However, that means we would also need more GPs, otherwise it will just become harder to see a doctor because there would be fewer appointments available."

Copyright © Press Association 2010


Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"All of my GPs rush you in and out in 2 minutes and fail to listen because they can't be bothered and are very unsympathetic. I prefer to see the trainee GPs we have at our surgery, they are always much better. The NHS could improve patient care if they actually employed some of these trainee GPs who are usually always better than the GPs who have worked in the surgery for years" - Mich, Scotland

"I agree with all of the above. I am privileged to attend a practice where my GP and his colleagues spend time to enhance their knowledge but they are human. We are asked to document our symptoms etc and other reasons for our visit which is handed over to the GP which in turn saves time and not forgetting to mention some other problem including a prescription. I know it can only be 10 minutes but maybe under this system treatment/consultation can be finished in under the time. My GP takes his time, reads the script, asks questions, mega listener and reassures me and all his patients and much loved even if we have to wait an extra 15 minutes. To be honest from my experience it helps with less visits and minor matters addressed by the nurse specialists" - Violet Weerasinghe, Wokingham

"I totally agree. Ten minutes is not enough to give care to patients - by the time they enter the room 2-3 minutes have gone already. Then you feel under pressure to deal with the presenting problems. It's usually more than one problem because they would prefer to discuss female problems with a nurse rather than a male dr" - Danielle Davis, London

"The GPs get 10 minutes per appointment, the patient can request a double appointment if they have more than one issue. Some patients only need a few minutes and I find this when I visit the doctor, I have never taken 10 minutes for a consultation therefore giving extra time if a patient takes longer. I cannot see why longer is needed. A lot of it is time management" - Jennifer, Essex

"Some appointments can be short and easily dealt with, others need to be longer as the patient just has to keep returning again and again until they receive satisfactory treatment. I had a problem five years ago which took 18 months to be listened to, by which time it had become far worse. Once I discovered the problem myself it was dealt with very quickly ... I am going through the same problem again ... a condition which took 2 years for someone to listen to me and now it is very serious and I am having to find someone for a second opinion as appointments are just too rushed ... unless you go privately. If GPs just took the time to listen, take a history, do an examination and review you again soon...otherwise I just don't see the point of having any GPs. Patients could just do self-referrals to a specialist ... that would save money" - Name and address supplied

"There needs investment in training and developing more nurses in diagnosis treatment and chronic disease management, thereby freeing up and lengthening GP appointments for more complex diagnoses. Devolvement of roles and responsibilities across the primary healthcare team are necessary for a modern healthcare workforce" - Tricia McCosker, Coventry

"I definitely agree with this!!! I am a frustrated patient who each time go to see the GP, has an average time of 2 to 3 mins per visit. While I do the talk, the GP is already typing the prescription, barely have hand on job ever if I don't ask to be examined I won't be, and by the time I finish to explain what I have, the prescription is signed and it's time for the next patient to come in. I am glad that I have contributed to national statistic, but would have thought that my health was a priority" - Fred, Reading