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 109.

    Why does the government allow public employees who are very well, if not perhapsoverpaid, to dictate the terms of their employment? As the elected representatives of the people, they should be making the rules and sacking those who object to them. Where else would GPs find employment other than the NHS ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    GPs these days appear to have no time. They prefer to hand over prescription drugs instead of sitting down with the patient and discussing lifestyle choices.

    Perhaps we need to emphasise these lifestyle choices in school. It seems odd that a nation with an NHS has very little education revolving around health.

    I'd rather have a holistic approach to health as opposed to a pill-popping approach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    I had a GP appointment this morning. My competant GP diagnosed the problem, explained what it was, then printed off information for me to read. It took about 5 minutes. That was all that was needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    @98 tigersimon (in answer to @3 A Wheel Busted) - A lot of the excellent overseas nurses (and doctors) have been poached from countries that have very poor medical systems and people who are unable to get medical treatment, because they are so short staffed. The UK should stand on it's own two feet and train its own staff without recourse to overseas recruitment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Could somebody tell me what was so wrong with the system where you went to the doctors during two set times a day, 6 days a week, and waited to see YOUR doctor who would also make home visits and even visit you in hospital. What changed to make it so dreadful now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    It can be annoying that I can't just phone up a GP for some phone information, ~3 minute phone call. Everytime I want to even communicate with them, it's make an appointment. Great for the automobile business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Highly paid and expensively trained GPs shouldn't be used as social workers or a friendly face to chat to. Tasks by the way, which used to be much of the local vicar's work, only their involvement has lessen to

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I see the meddling mother-in -law (government) is at it again, why is it that the oily rag (government) gets to tell the engineer (doctors & nurses) how to do their job. Sorry but it beats me, it really does, I cannot put into words how much I detest politicians. Please all vote for None of the above in 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    The trouble with targets like this is that they are too blunt an instrument. We had the exact same problem with waiting lists. They were annoyingly long, then the targets came in and they greatly reduced but made it almost impossible to book an appointment in advance. Now they're scrapped again we're back to waiting ages for any available appointment.

    I don't think there is an easy solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    57. Bob

    Why bother your overpaid, underworked overgolfcoursed GP and his/her jobsworth administrators?
    I'm married to a GP - you are seriously misguided. A typical working day is 8:30 to anything up to 8pm, with little or no time for lunch. Pay? No pay rises for the last 5 years, same as most other people.
    Take the chip off your shoulder and realise most Dr's are normal hardworking people

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    80. DeadMike - that's not exactly fair is it? Surely non-working people with that kind of typical day would be going private and wouldn't be battling on the phone like the rest of us at 08:30 to get a call back from a nurse "to gauge if you need an appt. with a doctor". Last time this happened I never got a call back and dragged myself there feeling like death to wait 2 hrs to be seen as a walk-in

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    ..@3. A Wheel Busted.."If the government had kept control of our borders we would not be suffering the overload of our NHS and these measures would not need to be introduced"
    I presume you would also refuse entry to excellent overseas nurses as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    You know what I feel when I go to the doctors? A genuine lack of enthusiasm to find out what's actually wrong (I might add that I rarely go), and a tendency to dish out a prescription at the first possible opportunity.I don't blame the doctors though, I blame the society that's overburdening them. More funding on this, less on things like HS2 = more doctor patient time & more care

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    I can not get an appointment full stop.

    But if I do get one i get seen to almost as long is necessary.

    Great GP's and staff at Well Street Surgery South Hackney!

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Bring back some open surgeries? It's all well and good booking in advance but sometimes you don't plan to get ill and need to get in to see a GP or Nurse but there are no available appointments until the next week which is no good. Especially if you need a doctors note for work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    4 Minutes ago
    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.'

    I agree. Cut the £100,000 doctor's salary impose by Labour so GPs see their work as a vocation, not a cash cow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    I agree that the GP should spend as much time as needed with a patient. However, there needs to be more day - care centres or places for the elderly to go to and socialise. They should not be treating the GP as a social centre.

    As well, those who make appointments need to keep them! If you can't make the appointment do the decent thing and call BEFORE the appointment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    When I phone to make an appointment now, I generally have a 3-4 week wait, and that's if I can even get through to the surgery.
    Also, having the surgery closed for half a day once a week, or only have clinics for certain illnesses on other days is a very bad use of time.
    Running a GP surgery is surely common sense? Something that is sorely lacking in anything that the Government are involved in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.


    "2. Get Public to realise that Headaches, Common Colds, Pulled Muscles are NOT reasons to clog up surgeries"

    They are if you are elderly because all the above can and do point or lead to more serious issues if you are elderly.

    Just saying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    My local GP surgery has adopted a Nazi approach to asthma care. Don't show up to a mandated yearly asthma check you did't ask for or need? Then you get your medication cut off and a permanent note on your health record claiming you're a "disruptive patient".

    Oh, and they don't offer appointments during evening or weekend - maybe they believe healthcare is only for workless people.


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