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The importance of looking after our GPs has never been more vital as more surgeries close, along with a sustained fall in UK GP numbers. What this means, is that highly skilled professionals in our industry are under pressure to see and treat more patients in an already long working day. 

Law firm Slater and Gordon took a survey of 200 family doctors and discovered that 80% of these GPs felt they didn’t have sufficient time to properly diagnose patients. 35% of those who took part in the survey admitted they had missed symptoms, while 37% believed they may have prescribed the incorrect course of treatment.

Clinical negligence expert Parm Sahota, from Slater and Gordon, told the Telegraph: “Working in this area of law I already knew GPs were stretched, but the timeframes they are expected to practice within are suffocating.”

Royal College of GPs: ’10-minute appointment not fit for purpose’

Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard has responded to this research. Here’s her full statement:

“It has been clear for some time that the standard 10-minute appointment is no longer fit for purpose. As GPs, we want to be able to deliver truly holistic care to our patients after considering all the physical, psychological and social factors potentially impacting on their health.

“But when you consider that very few patients now come to us with just one health-related condition, and that we are increasingly up against the clock in consultations, this is simply not possible and in some cases it could be unsafe.

“We know that GPs and our teams are working under intense resource and workforce pressures and as a result, hard-working, experienced family doctors are burning out, and leaving the profession earlier than they would have done. These must be addressed, not just to keep general practice – and the wider NHS – sustainable, but for our patients’ safety.

“We have called for 15-minute appointments as a standard, with longer for those patients with complex health needs who need it. But with GP workload soaring, falling numbers of family doctors, and patients waiting longer for appointments, we need more resources and an expanded workforce to make these longer consultations feasible – otherwise it will only add to pressures and serve to undermine patients’ ability to access the care that they need.”

Measures regarding longer appointment times are absolutely required to help GPs and it’s important to make it clear that the knowledge and skill of GPs is appreciated by patients across the UK. In response to this research, an NHS spokesperson told the Telegraph: 

“The recent GP Patient Survey showed that more than nine in 10 patients trusted their GP, and more than eight in 10 people described their experience at their GP practice as good or better.”

Action needed to help GPs

It’s clearly important to look after our GPs in order for them to look after the health of the community. The call for longer appointment times as standard have been around for some time, but the action required to address this is becoming increasingly urgent. With the previously mentioned surgery closures and fall in GP numbers in the UK, there’s increasing pressure on family doctors across the country. 

MDS CEO Rohan Simon said: “As an MDO set up by GPs for GPs, we’re acutely aware that some members of our profession feel under pressure. We’re keen to make sure that GPs get help in these instances and are able to access the correct support if they do make an error.

“If any GP does have a concern, we’d encourage them to contact us. As a nation, we need to look after our GPs so that we keep our skilled professionals in their roles and that they have the help they need to do their jobs to the best standard.”

There’s help at hand if you feel under pressure in your GP role. If you feel you need support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 020 8938 3631, or alternatively contact us online here.