GP 10-minute appointment rule axed

GP consultation There will no longer be a minimum length for GP consultations

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GPs in England will no longer have to offer appointments lasting at least 10 minutes under changes agreed with the government.

It is one of a number of requirements being removed in the latest round of contract negotiations between the government and doctors' leaders.

NHS England says consultations last on average for around 12 minutes.

It added this change should mean GPs have greater flexibility over how they organise their appointments,

Other changes which have been agreed, and which will come in next April, include enhanced care for the million frailest patients, and named GPs for the four million over-75s,

'Keen to chat'

The removal of the 10 minute minimum slot for booked appointments is one of the changes being made to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), which accounts for a significant proportion of the funding practices receive,

Start Quote

GPs should have the flexibility to decide how long an appointment needs to be”

End Quote NHS England spokeswoman

Dr Dean Marshall, who is part of the British Medical Association's GP negotiating team, told the BBC: "The 10-minute appointment just isn't appropriate any more.

"Some patients just need a quick five minutes with us while other patients need much longer because of the complex nature of their health problems."

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: "GPs are professionals who know what is best for their patients.

"GP appointments are currently about 12 minutes long on average.

"GPs should have the flexibility to decide how long an appointment needs to be and how many patients they can see in one day, using their clinical judgement, on a case-by-case basis, based on the needs of their patients."

QOF is, in effect, a points based system. There are a wide range of targets covered in QOF, each of which has a number of points attached. Those points are linked to funding, so the more a practice achieves, the more funding it gets.

However, there have been concerns, accepted by government in these negotiations, about the number of "boxes" QOF required GPs to "tick".

Around a quarter of QOF points have been removed and the funding tied to those - around £290m - has been transferred to the main practice funding pot.

Other changes agreed will also remove the requirement for GPs to ask patients with diabetes, at every annual check up, whether or not they experience erectile dysfunction.

There will also no longer be a requirement for patients with high blood pressure to go through a detailed, but often irrelevant questionnaire about their activity levels.

A further 100 points worth £162m will be removed from the QOF "pot" to fund measures aimed at ensuring patients are not inappropriately admitted to hospital.

Another change agreed in the negotiation is that from April 2014, all practices will have to offer and promote online appointment booking and repeat prescription requests.

Many practices already have the software with the capacity, in theory, to do this.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    My GP always maintains good eye contact and I have not noticed any glancing at any timekeeping appliances unless they are placed in such a way so the patient cannot tell whether the seemingly fully attentive doc is surreptitiously clock watching. Speed of communication between GP and patient are crucial. Highly intelligent patients may have self-diagnosed which GP endorses? Hence less time needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    This won't really affect anything. GPs aim to see the majority of patients for about 4 min of those 10 allocated then onto the next patient if they can. If there is a serious problem they will spend more time with them as necessary. The good GPs will go on as normal, the bad ones will look to see how this benefits themselves. same old same old.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Am I the only person who does not have huge waits to get to see their GP then ?

    Because on the rare occasion I do need to see my GP I can ring in the morning and get an appointment that same morning, or failing that, in the afternoon.

    So am I in a unique position or are many posters on here simply exaggerating for effect ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    You do have to wonder whether or not pressure from private companies is being applied here. It seems perfectly obvious that the intention of this government is not to provide quality care, free at the point of need, but to hive it off as quickly as possible to their mates.

    Check out how many cabinet minsters have shares in private health, and the number of contracts awarded to them so far.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Aaaaah I understand now, we're here for the GP's they're not here for us! How careless of me not to have realized this sooner...

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    If I got 10 minutes with a GP I would start to wonder if there was something serious wrong with me.

    It's just a conveyor belt with a selection pills and platitudes to chose from and no quality time spent with patients. I do have health issues however, I go to my surgery as inferequently as I can bacause I'm fed up just being a number or a statistic or worse feeling like I've wasted their time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Less beurocracy is good, it won't change the fact that care is metered on cost, so this change won't resolve the central issue of NHS care being a lottery depending on what type of condition you have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The NHS used to work until governments started to meddle with it and now its a shambles, what with targets to be met and underfunding , I'm surprised that they haven't come up with the idea of just one big hospital called Birmingham and doctors working 10 - 4 , four days a week, for us plebs, its ok for them with their private health care. Points are what football teams play for not Dr's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I'm not sure I trust Jeremy Hunt here. He just thinks about money. Meanwhile, if GPs are forced to rush appointments, they might miss potentially life-threatening symptoms.

    I don't think we can trust the Tories with our NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    To fiddle while Rome burns?
    There were no comments when I began my comment so did not read your comments - it took 4 minutes to write my comments down.

    Scary when someone reads your mind exactly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The change will allow doctors to better organise their appointments?

    Better organise them? They're already well organised, as you have to plan your illness at least 2 weeks in advance to get any sort of appointment with my GP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Here we go again, policy based upon averages.

    It is very rare that I need or have had a doctors appointment of 10 minutes.

    If doctors can set appointments based upon experience of illness & experience of those ill, then doctors can improve waiting times & number of patients seen as appointment times & durations should reflect reality & not some not fit for purpose average statistic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Good. GP's like any professionals should be able to use their years of training to make a judgement on whether more or less time is needed.. Obviously the patient can ask further questions until they are satisfied.

    My last visit was to check a dodgy mole. It took 90 seconds to refer me to a dermatologist. Why waste 10 minutes? I'm busy too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    It seems as if no thought what so ever was given to all the patients (particularly those with cancer) who are not diagnosed quickly or effectively enough; a problem that will only get worse with this new proposal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Why don't they bring back out of hours GPs. The private 'oncall' doctors are utterly useless and either tell you to dial 999, or admit you unnecessarily. Hospital doctors are banded on how much out of hours they do, so if you do lots of out of hours you're paid more. GPs work less then 9-5 (9 surgeries a week) and get paid alot more. No wonder everyone is going for GP training now. Easy life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Blimey, we're normally in and out like greased lightning as it is. If they abolish the 10 minute minimum it won't be worth sitting down.

    Why don't they make surgeries 'drive-in' - the GP could yell at us through a little window; it'd save them no end of time!

    (I'm joking...but I wouldn't put it past them!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    10 minutes???? i should be so lucky..........

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    7. flipmode

    Then don't go to the Doctors if you feel run down or with 'flu like symptoms' My sister is a GP, and the amount of people that go to her complaining about something which not even GP's can treat, or most people would like to think cure. Take some responsibility for your own bodies, then maybe the NHS won't in the state it is now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    What next... drive thru doctor appointments?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I have never had an appointment lasting a whole 10 minutes. Ever. So what is this change about?


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