GPs need longer consultations to deliver care to patients, says College

Publication date: 07 December 2018

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to new figures from NHS England on GP consultations.

She said: "Despite the best efforts of GPs and our teams, who are working incredibly hard to deliver more consultations than ever before, our patients are waiting too long to secure a GP appointment. We know this is frustrating for them and their families, and it's frustrating for GPs and our teams too. We want to deliver timely care to patients, in the early stages of illness, to avoid conditions getting worse, when they can be both more distressing for patients, and more costly for the NHS.

"We also want the time to deliver care for patients - for many who are living with multiple, long term conditions, the standard 10-minute consultation is no longer fit for purpose - but offering longer consultations, means offering fewer, and as this data shows, patients are struggling to get an appointment as it is.

"With this in mind, it's encouraging and a great testament to the hard work and dedication of GPs that more than 40% of GP appointments are made on the same day the patient is seen, so we are confident most of those who are acutely unwell are being provided for.

"Today's data also shows that many patients are not attending appointments when they have made them. There can be a number of reasons for this, and in some cases a patient not attending an appointment can be an indication that something has gone wrong - but this waste of resources is frustrating, and we would urge patients to let us know if they can't attend as soon as possible, so that we can offer that time to someone else who really needs it. To this end, practices are using electronic methods, such as SMS reminders, to encourage patients to keep their appointments, or cancel them in a timely manner.

"Ultimately, we are calling for general practice to receive 11% of the overall NHS England budget as part of the forthcoming 10-year plan for the NHS, so that our service can continue to deliver the care our patients need and deserve, and keep the rest of the health service sustainable.

"On a wider note, it is very welcome that NHS England has started collecting and analysing GP appointment data - this is something we have long called for. There is a long way to go to improve the quality of this data - and the College is working hard in this regard as our own Research Surveillance Centre has recently started collecting comprehensive data on workload in general practice - this will be invaluable for future planning of our services."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 765
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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