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Readers panel: should longer GP consultations be an NHS priority?

The average consultation time with a GP in the UK is ten minutes. Research by The Health Foundation, which looked at the length of appointments in 11 countries, found this to be the shortest in the developed world. Nursing Standard panellists have their say. 
GP_time-Getty.jpg

The average consultation time with a GP in the UK is ten minutes. Research by The Health Foundation, which looked at the length of appointments in 11 countries, found this to be the lowest in the developed world. Nursing Standard readers panellists have their say.

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London @drew_london

GPs have to examine, diagnose, select treatment, answer questions and write a prescription during a consultation. How can they do that safely in ten minutes, especially for older patients with complex health needs? If the government wants more patients treated in the community, GPs will need more time with their patients, but longer consultations will mean less available appointments and so we will need more GPs.

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The average consultation time with a GP in the UK is ten minutes. Research by The Health Foundation, which looked at the length of appointments in 11 countries, found this to be the lowest in the developed world. Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say. 


The UK has the shortest GP consultation time in the developed world           Picture: Getty

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London 
@drew_london

GPs have to examine, diagnose, select treatment, answer questions and write a prescription during a consultation. How can they do that safely in ten minutes, especially for older patients with complex health needs? If the government wants more patients treated in the community, GPs will need more time with their patients, but longer consultations will mean less available appointments and so we will need more GPs. This requires government funding, but there seems to be reluctance to invest in the NHS. 


Linda Drake is a practice nurse in south London 

‘Only one problem per appointment’: I have seen this sign on the walls of doctors’ consulting rooms, and find it hard to imagine the reductionist mindset of those who display it. We see patients presenting with increasingly complex issues in primary care, because hospitals discharge them earlier in their disease trajectory. The notion that high quality, holistic care can be delivered in ten minutes is an insult to those we care for.


Jane Scullion is a respiratory nurse consultant in Leicester 
@JaneScullion

Changes to the quality and outcomes framework in 2013 meant GPs in England no longer had to offer appointments lasting at least ten minutes. Although there is no specific requirement on length of time of appointment, and GPs can decide how long an appointment needs to be, they have to get through their daily workload, which perpetuates the ten-minute consultation time. It doesn’t have to be an NHS priority to change this, but what we need is sufficient staff to meet rising demand. 


Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London 

GPs need more time, more money and more support. Although longer consultation times would be useful, patients already experience difficulties when trying to see their GP. Longer consultations will mean longer waiting times and fewer people seen on the day, unless we fundamentally change the way we run GP surgeries. Longer opening hours may be worth considering; GPs could do early or late shifts, and sharing the workload with colleagues, including nurses, would help them to meet increasing demand. 


Readers panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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