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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs scorn £95m e-booking bribe

Health Secretary John Reid has astonished GPs by claiming they spend 14 minutes on average with each patient.

Mr Reid told Radio 4's

Today programme that consultation lengths had risen from only nine minutes when Lab-our came to power. He added: 'It's not long enough yet and we will add more.'

Mr Reid based his assertion on an Audit Commission survey of 200 practices last year which found average consultations were 13.3 minutes.

But GPs have derided the figure and questioned the validity of the research.

Embarrassingly for the Health Secretary, even primary care tsar Dr David Colin-Thome ­ appearing on Today the following day ­ distanced himself from the 14-minute claim.

He said: 'The methodology was not that precise, it was a rough survey.'

Dr John Campbell, professor of general practice at Peninsular Medical School and a GP in Exeter, said the finding lacked credibility because it was based on a survey.

He said: 'I am amazed the Health Secretary is prepared to make important statements about policy on these figures.'

GPC deputy chair Dr Laurence Buckman added he did not know any GP that had 14 minutes to spend with each patient. He said: 'I wish I had but I'm too busy doing all the other things that Tony Blair is asking me to do.'

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