RCGP: Hurried appointments leaving GPs stressed and dissatisfied

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) explains how 10 minute consultations don’t do most patients justice, and why this leaves GPs feeling inadequate

This is an edited version of an article first published by the RCGP.

In response to the Health Foundation’s latest report on GP role satisfaction ‘Feeling the Strain: What the Commonwealth Fund’s 2019 international survey of general practitioners means for the UK’ Dr Gary Howsam, vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“It’s incredibly concerning that GPs in the UK are more dissatisfied with the job, on many levels, than family doctors in other countries. However, it comes as no surprise as general practice has been operating under immense resource and workforce pressure for some time.

“Being a GP can be the best job in the world and we currently have more GPs in training that ever before – but unless significant steps are taken to make working in general practice more sustainable for existing GPs, they will burn out and leave the profession earlier than planned, and that will benefit nobody.

“GPs want to do their best for their patient but as more people are living with multiple, long-term conditions, standard 10-minute consultations are rarely appropriate to deliver the complex, high-quality care our patients deserve. We often find ourselves trying to cram far too much into 10 minutes, not only trying to deliver holistic care, but fitting in the increasing number of things we are expected to do during a consultation. No GP wants to hurry an appointment, and the result of having to doing so is stressful and dissatisfying for the GP and can leave patients feeling as though they have been rushed.

“We need more time with our patients. The College has called for 15-minute appointments as standard and longer for those patients who need it – but offering longer consultations means offering fewer and patients are already waiting too long for an appointment. We need the Government to deliver their pledges of more funding for general practice and 6,000 more GPs as a matter of urgency – and we look to the forthcoming NHS People Plan for details on their strategy to tackle GP workload and retain our existing GP workforce, so that the NHS remains fit for the future.”

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