College renews calls for longer consultations following BJGP multimorbidity study

Publication date: 13 March 2018

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to a study published in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) today on patients living with multimorbidities.

She said: "It is becoming less common as a GP to see patients presenting with a single, long-term health issue. Indeed, as this research shows, more than half of GP consultations are for patients living with two or more long-term conditions.

"This large-scale, comprehensive research is further evidence of the increasing complexity of cases that GPs are dealing with, and the inadequacy of the standard 10-minute consultation.

"GPs need much more time with our patients with complex needs, so that we can properly consider their unique circumstances – including the different conditions they are living with – and develop the most appropriate treatment plan for them. This simply isn't possible in 10 minutes, but offering longer appointments means offering fewer appointments and our patients are already waiting too long to secure time with their GP.

"Today's research also highlights the rising number of cases of physical and mental comorbidity, particularly in young people, and the urgent need for enhanced mental health services, including more mental health therapists and more options for treatment, in the community - and for GPs and our teams to have better access to them.

"Whilst GP workload has increased by at least 16% over the last decade, our work has also increased in complexity - but the share of the overall NHS budget general practice receives is less than it was a decade ago, and our workforce has not risen at pace with demand.

"We need to see NHS England's GP Forward View, which promises £2.4bn extra a year for general practice, 5,000 more GPs, and for every practice to have access to one of 3,000 new mental health therapists, delivered in full and as a matter of urgency.

"These findings also suggest that for general practice to cope with the changing needs of our population, we need to consider alternative ways of delivering care to ensure all patients receive the most appropriate care for them. This should involve implementing systems to free up GPs' time so that they can spend longer with patients living with multiple, complex conditions, who really need their medical skills and expertise."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 765

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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