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 129.

    Oh you poor dear! How DO you manage? Still I don't suppose you have to go to work if your husband is earning £100,000, so that helps.
    Clearly you can't tell if a name is male or female.
    And you believe the pay hype too? Sure a minority may earn 6 figures but >90% are nowhere near that, more like half that figure, FACT. You better go back to reading the Daily Mail. BTW I work full time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    The receptionist fills up the day with appointments at the beginning of the day. How can she tell whether a patient needs 5 minutes or ten minutes? The lunatics are in charge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    What difference does it make how long your appointment is, if the last time you saw your GP he told you to go home and fend for yourself? So much for the "dealt with excellently from a caring, understanding and highly experienced GP." referred to by "Product of England".

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Last time I rang my surgery to get an emergency appointment I was asked by the receptionist if I had been ill "the full 3 days" (sic).
    You couldn't make it up....

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    just sort out the timewasters, charge a prescription charge for an appointment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    "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"
    Yes,lets all go to A&E with our common colds and make the real emergencies wait as simply did not have the little patience required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    It's been over 15 years since I registered with a GP. I had a bad experience and just decided they were all that bad.

    But they're not. I know it's supposed to look like a single NHS GP system, but each one is a private medical practice that takes a fat check to pretend they care about NHS patients.

    But some do. The BBC obvious will never allow me to say which one I found, but they're out there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    My Doctors surgery already runs services 'out of hours' for those in work, have nursing and residential homes allocated, run a variety of clinics, offer a same day appointment and telephone consultation. Our 'out of hours' service is highly recommended. The GP Commissioning group has 2 lay members on its board and is working very well with local people and listening. this is in Exmouth, Devon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    111.Davey Trasker
    Grow up.
    Yes they may get paid more but they have enormous student loans after years of studying (unless they were rich to start with) , the hours are long, not to mention having to deal with hypochondriacs, idiots, endless changing regulations & paperwork and responsibility of peoples health & lives. Whatever they do they can't seem to win.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    "This is great news for anyone who suffers from - Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis"

    Pftt try man flu..

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    ..@64. farkyss.."Have you tried going to a GP with a chronic musculoskeletal condition lately? It's pathethic. It's health apartheid."
    If you have a 'chronic' condition, that means it is persistent and long lasting (chronos=time). So a chronic condition is one that has been diagnosed and has follow-up appointments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    This is great news for anyone who suffers from - Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    I wonder how the target some years ago of seeing patients in a certain time has influenced doctors behaviour. They seem to excell in finding ways to meet targets and performance measures that pay out. I experience being told no appointments available today - phone back tomorrow at 8am . Then by the time you get through all gone - but that will not be logged - and the target will appear to be met.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Points within QOF relating to appointments should be measured based on (qualitative) opinions of patients. It should also be a requirement to tell patients how long their appointment will last. I rarely need more than 10 mins and only learnt about this rule when a GP refused to discuss my health without a further appointment. A notice on the surgery is ineffective at communicating policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    57. Bob

    The answer is in the title, A & E, stands for accident and emergency, so if you are not there for either of those reasons it is people like you who are choking up the system.
    Same with GPs, there are too many people taking up their time with trivial ailments, thus the appointment book gets clogged and those needing the doctors have to wait.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

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


    Really? Then perhaps you would like to have a word with Atos healthcare "professionals" who constantly undermine and overule GPs diagnoses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Close the NHS and let the problem sort itself out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    90. farkyss
    Oh, and they don't offer appointments during evening or weekend - maybe they believe healthcare is only for workless people.
    Or they think that if you're ill you're off work? When I had a very dodgy looking mole I decided the possibility of malignant melanoma was worth half a day sick

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    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.'

    Oh you poor dear! How DO you manage? Still I don't suppose you have to go to work if your husband is earning £100,000, so that helps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.


    I am marked as a uncooperative patient because I consider that I am consulting the doctor about my health and I will decide what is to be done. I have never understood how a doctor can expect a sick person to describe their symptoms and discuss the possible diagnosis in just ten minutes. It can't be done.

    Only the worried-well can do it in ten minutes and they should be shown the door.


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