GPs Need More Than 10 Minutes

The UK has among the shortest GP consultations among developed countries.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — A report from the UK’s Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has stated that the 10-minute appointment which is common across the UK National Health Service (NHS) is no longer adequate.

People with long-term illnesses, in particular, need consultations which are longer to give patients more opportunity to discuss their state of health.

The RCGP, in its report Fit For The Future, recommends to extend face-to-face consultations to at least 15 minutes and longer for those needing more attention to their treatment needs.

GPs are forced to deal with increasingly challenging and complex conditions due an ageing population and rise in chronic conditions.

More patients are presenting with a combination of at least two medical conditions such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and depression. Those with long-term conditions account for around 50% of all GP appointments.

The UK has among the shortest GP consultations among developed countries. Studies show that they usually last around 9.2 minutes. They also show that a typical appointment involved discussion of at least two health issues.

Despite increasing demand for GPs, the number of such practitioners have been falling in England. Doctors are taking early retirement in their 50s and 60s.

The RCGP’s report also recommends the introduction of “wellbeing hubs”. Patients can be seen, through digital and video means, by a team of health professionals.

Not every patient need to see a GP. In the future, they can be seen by physiotherapists, pharmacists, dieticians, nurses and occupational therapists.

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