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GPs boycott out-of-hours as PCTs offer paltry rates

The touchy-feely approach to patient consultations is a waste of time and has only 'meagre benefit', according to new GP research.

Eliciting patients' concerns about treatment lengthened consultations by 10 per cent and had no effect on anxiety, although it did leave patients more satisfied with their care.

But the researchers called the benefits of increased patient satisfaction 'questionable' and concluded that given the pressures on time, 'the best may be the enemy of the good'.

Study author Dr Malcolm McLean, a GP tutor in Henfield, West Sussex, told Pulse: 'Say you have 25-30 consultations in a day – that's an extra 25-30 minutes. The benefits do seem rather meagre.'

But RCGP president and author of The Inner Consultation Dr Roger Neighbour said: 'There is plenty of evidence patients who feel they have been understood are better at compliance. It's also "money in the bank" against future more difficult consultations.'

Jim Phillips, expert patient programme principal trainer, said: 'If people aren't listen-

ed to they may come back.'

The study in the British Journal of General Practice (September) compared 54 standard consultations with 56 where GPs asked set questions to encourage patients to share their concerns.

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