Are 10-Minute GP Appointments Too Short?

According to a recent article by the Guardian, the standard 10-minute time slot allotted for GP appointments is too short to provide patients with the care they need and should be made longer. Citing a report by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), the article states that by 2030, face-to-face GP appointments will need to be extended to at least 15 minutes.

Why do patients need longer GP appointments?

Today, a growing number of people suffer from long-term health problems. According to the RCGP, around 50% of GP appointments are with patients who have long-term conditions. As a result, this trend puts significantly more stress on GPs. This is because it can be difficult to address a patient’s potentially complex issues within the current 10-minute appointment window.

In addition, the RCGP states that it’s increasingly rare for patients to present just one problem when visiting their GP. In recent years, the number of people with more than one chronic condition has increased by 8% annually. On average, GP appointments now usually involve the discussion of two and a half medical problems.

As the standard 10 minutes often isn’t long enough to discuss multiple issues, many patients feel their appointments with GPs are too rushed. In fact, surveys show that patient satisfaction with GP services is at an all-time low, with many patients reporting their dissatisfaction stems from issues related to appointments.

Clearly, longer appointments are required for GPs to provide the best care they can for their patients.

What’s being done to extend GP appointments?

NHS England recently piloted its Time for Care programme at a number of test sites across the country. The aim of the programme is to help GP practices free up time for patient care by offering online appointment booking and electronic prescription services.

The pilot scheme found that by adopting such ways of working, GP practices could free up over 200,000 clinical hours. Freeing up this amount of time could allow GPs to offer an extra 1.23 million 10-minute appointments.

However, being able to offer more 10-minute long time slots doesn’t address the issue that GP appointments of this duration still aren’t long enough. Furthermore, the RCGP’s recent report suggests it’s unrealistic to expect GPS to offer patients greater access to their services without the NHS first recruiting more GPs to help them cope with already heavy workloads.

What can GPs do to help?

While the much-needed 15-minute appointment is still a thing of the future, there are some ways GPs can help alleviate the problem in the meantime. Out-of-hours working can be a great opportunity for GPs to see more patients while reaping the benefits of a flexible working schedule, such as lighter workloads.

Visit out our recruitment page for details on the latest out-of-hours vacancies.