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 489.

    @486 tonyinselby.
    Your idea of a Dr taking the calls, not an 'untrained' receptionist sounds, on the surface, great. However, do you not think this has already been thought about. This would only increase waiting times for an appt with a GP still further, as one GP is taken away from the 'coalface'. I promise you (as a GP) all these simplistic ideas have already been tried.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    Appointments! I care less for a fixed appointment than knowing that if I turn up and queue then I shall be seen that day. This system worked well for I know not how long, why did we ever abandon it, so that we end up with a timed appointment but have to wait a week for it.
    The GP will soon get to know who are the time wasters unless he keeps getting a different locum and deal with them quickly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    The system, as it is, works.... But only to a point. A 10 minute minimum allows for a structured approach to planning appointments. To Be fair, the last couple of times I've been to the surgery, I've not been seen at the time I was 'booked', but I was dealt with efficiently and was doped up on the relevant antibiotic in no time at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    mags @456 I'd agree about not discussing my complaint with "office staff"; I've worked part-time as receptionist in a podiatry clinc and wouldn't dream of talking about patients' feet: I was there to make appointments. Here's an idea for GP surgeries . Have a rota where one qualified doctor, not an untrained receptionist, not a "practice nurse", takes calls instead of surgery once a week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    Yes we would all love to go back to the time when your doctor was the person who delivered you at home and knew everything about your family medical history, but those days have well and truly gone I'm afraid.

    People are living longer and medical science has advanced to keep people alive beyond their natural years. So why complain?

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    I don't understand your point, vexed voter @465. You complain that they "tinker" and yet you complain that they "go back to the status quo". Make your mind up: either you approve of the status quo or you approve of change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    @480 Peter - wow, how bitter are you? Must have had bad experiences at your GPs. I'd suggest, if that's your view of 'the doctors' then you should register elsewhere - I think you'll find that most GPs are actually caring, hard-working people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    470 PW
    Ok, if that's the case, then you don't want to tell the receptionist, and there's no way of deciding if your problem is treatable by a nurse, or does need the doctor, or is merely worried well. It's always possible your judgement is better.
    476 - immigrants are rarely the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    @432(Sue) I bow to your psychic powers! So I should have polled our surgery's patients before I took the job to see if they were happy that I wasn't at their beck and call 24/7 as their GP? (why the "managed' to become a GP in inverted commas?) My excessive salary with little input? You know MY hours? Your GP relatives did 'far better' than I do now! You know my work standard? Are you my stalker?

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    The doctors just want enough minutes to look up in their pharmaceutical manual what drug to give you or which vaccine to stick in your arm. So that will be 40 seconds and out of the room you go. There will be no real delving into your condition and trying to find the root cause. "A pill for all ills" - that's enough and forget the side effects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    there is no one size fits all anywhere, especially in healthcare

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    469 - why are your receptionists 'snotty'? What is diffiuclt about admitting you have piles say? I have never met receptionist who gossip about illnesses. Inattentive - yes, we get that in all walks of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    This will just lead to appointment times getting shorter for everyone- anyone up for 4 minute consultations with their GP?

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    3.A Wheel Busted...
    Said it all.
    Too many immigrants=too many problems.
    P.S.Still nothing on labour/unite scandal!!
    P.P.S. Still nothing on Straw/Blunkett comments on labours idiotic immigration policy!!!!
    Still waiting for answers on the lack of coverage of said articles from the bbc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    I remember a time when there were NO appointments, but everyone got seen. We just sat inthe witing room til the receptionist called our names. Always saw OUR doctor too.
    Call them out then...they came within an hour!
    Progress??? Not really.
    Still all medical trade in cahoots with Govt. No place for citizens in that cozy arrangement!!
    Setting aside that NHS crats cannot run a bath!

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    This option to allow patients a few moments of consultation should allow GPs to pop out and attend to their frailest patients needs. I haven't had a GP who knew me, my family and conditions since I was six! I'm 67 now!

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    Anyone seriously believe anything that complete waste of space Hunt says? Acting illegally, sound bite politics from a Murdoch stooge who lies through his teeth

    The NHS IS NOT SAFE in the hands of call me dave, liar clegg,
    inumerate gideon and the boy blunder danny.

    Jez get out of our lives and go spend your £17 million windfall or want more from privatising the NHS?

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    A&E already clogged with parents taking children with colds or minor cuts that need a band aid. Hypochondriac culture we live in.

    Stop complaining if your GP can't see you for an hour 5 minutes after you first blow your nose. Make an appointment for a couple of days hence, probably have cleared up by then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    The government is composed of people who have private medicine, from GP to hospital; no waiting, no fatal delays. They do not live in our world and we have to bear that in mind when we examine the rules and regulations they try to impose upon us.
    However, people need to use A&E only for emergencies; too many people have no brain cells and use it for inappropriate reasons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    "I don't mind the receptionist knowing what i want. Do you not trust them?"

    I most certainly do mind the receptionist knowing my medical concerns and no I do not trust them.


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