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 89.

    For those who do not "trust the Tories with the NHS", be very grateful you do not live in Wales (unless you do, of course!), as you will find the NHS there is under-funded and under considerable threat.

    Now, which political party is in charge in Wales? It ain't the Tories!

    Some may not trust the Tories with the NHS, but many more do not trust Labour with the economy, which funds the NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    well if all they want an appointment for is a chat just tell them they are wasting valuable resources... go away, and sit in the café, you DON`T NEED A DOCTOR!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    27. HowQueerMissus - wherever you're registered, never, ever move!
    p.s. can I move in?

    Seriously though you really are a minority. I can only get an appointment same day if I choose my doctor's public walk-in facility and wait for 2 hours. It's a large city centre clinic with dual facilities & I can't remember the last time I managed to book an appointment as one of their registered patients.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I think it is rather apt that Jeremy Hunt is now rhyming slang...we know how to get the NHS better...1.Get rid of the Jeremys in middle management, support the front line troops who are there because of PASSION not for CASH.
    2. Get Public to realise that Headaches, Common Colds, Pulled Muscles are NOT reasons to clog up surgeries

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    no your not in a unique position. if i phone my GP on a wednesday, i can get an appointment on a wednesday. might not be the same week, but itll be a wednesday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    if i was leaving school with good results id say sod working in the public sector no matter what the money is you get it in the neck when it goes wrong and no prase when it goes right. i would go into the city where it does not matter you still come out smelling of roses

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Eliminate all points and targets-based systems. Aim for excellence tailored to the user's needs. Appl this principle across public and private industry.

    Yes, of course continue monitoring for outliers in order to identify problems or learn from exceptional achievements, but do not use these results to direct, rather to inform.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Everyone seems to think that with the 10 min rule being cut, they will offer shorter times. The article suggests the average time is 12 mins. I see no reason why they would offer short consultations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    57. Bob
    Why bother your overpaid, underworked overgolfcoursed GP and his/her jobsworth administrators? Just go straight to a walkin centre or A&E. A four hour wait there is better than the two/three week wait for an appointment at the underused doctors surgery


    So you would go to A&E to have your prostate checked? no wonder the emergency departments are struggling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I wonder how many of those complaining is due to their doctors not accomodating their appointment around them as opposed to the other way rounf?

    'Appointment at 10.30am tomorrow...I've got coffee with friends then, how about 1.30 before my yoga class?' - Then goes to A&E instead & complains it's busy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Blimey! We will have to train very hard to undress and dress in less than 5 minutes!
    If you have to undress everytime you go to the GP's i'd start worrying ... a lot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    The NHS isn't working for all the reasons other public sector functions fail - massive bureaucracy, dysfunctional management & poorly motivated staff.
    Because the service is free it's abused (Ireland have introduced a fee and demand has plummeted - the time wasters have been forced to think before bothering a doctor)
    Why not also add a 'use at your own risk' clause & save billions in compo claims?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    While GPs continue to be paid for how many names they have on their books and not the quality or quantity treatments and "outcomes" (I do hate that word) that they facilitate then they will simply continue to a more and more patients that they will have no hope of seeing. They will prioritise those that earn them bonuses (vaccinations etc.) and palm off everyone else with delays and short appts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    When I need an appointment have had to wait up to 10 days to see doctor. My surgery has only 3 doctors,none English. My doctor never seems to make eye contact,always at computer. Rarely get examined.Never had 10 min app,always less than 5 mins. I have had to use NHS direct and walk in surgeries 2 bus rides away

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    69. vin

    Yes - let's have Labour running the NHS like they do in Wales.

    Oh, no. Waiting lists are far longer there. And who exactly gave doctors £100k a year to work less hours?

    Still, best not let any facts get in the way of your ideological rant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    The system of scheduling appointments is the basic problem, along with targets that practices need to meet.
    Open the GP surgerys for morning and afternoon sessions, and have people turn up to wait for an appointment in that session - if they cannot be bothered to wait, then they cannot have been that ill.
    This system was in place at a surgery I went to when I was younger, and the system worked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Id rather be seen on time by my GP than have a 11 minute period of time to blah blah blah about something to someone who isnt really bothered anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    The length of appointments is less important than actually being able to get one. My GP practice has a rigid rule that you can only book an appointment exactly 2 weeks ahead (not a day earlier or later). Unless you're able to get through the phone queue by 8.30am that day will be full & you have to try again next day. This absolutely serves the system not the patient. No wonder A&E is overcrowded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    In Vauxhall there are no after hours GPs and none on weekends.
    One surgery has doctor till 7pm om a Fridays but are booked out for a month for this time slot.
    So everyone goes to A&E

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    re 26
    OK Kev, how many cabinet minsters do have shares in private health?

    This facile tubthumpimg achieves absolutely nothing


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