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GPs call for 15-minute minimum consultations

More patients have multiple chronic conditions
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The Royal College of GPs has called for an end to the standard 10-minute GP consultation to allow family doctors to spend more time with patients with complex needs.

Its “vision for the future” states that by 2030 face-to-face GP consultations will be at least 15 minutes, with longer for those patients who need it.

Recent research showed that the UK offers some of the shortest GP consultations among economically-advanced nations at 9.2 minutes – with another study finding that the average GP consultation involved discussion of two and a half health problems.

It is estimated that the number of people with a single chronic condition increased by 4% and with multiple chronic conditions by 8% per year between 2003/4-2015/16. Patients with long-term conditions account for around 50% of all GP appointments.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, argued the standard 10-minute appointment is unfit for purpose because it is increasingly rare for a patient to present with a just single health condition.

“GPs want to deliver truly holistic care to our patients, considering all the physical, psychological and social factors potentially impacting on their health. But this depends on us having more time to spend with patients, and the resources and people to allow us to do this,” she said.

The college also predicts an overhaul of the GP-patient record into a personalised “data dashboard”, accessible by healthcare professionals across the NHS, which will draw on data from the patient’s genomic profile and wearable monitoring devices.

Networks of GP practices will evolve into wellbeing hubs with expanded teams offering a wider range of services, both clinical and non-clinical.

There will also be a greater use of artificial intelligence to improve triage systems that assess the severity of a patient’s health needs, enhance diagnosis, flag at risk patients, and safely identify the most appropriate care pathway, the college said.