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15.06 How long should a GP appointment be? Well, it depends...

Croydon GP Dr Sadia Qureshi considers whether a one-size-fits-all appointment length is really the best model for general practice

So they are talking about abolishing the 10-minute appointment limit. The figures suggest that the average appointment lasts 12 minutes, but some parts of the media have criticsed surgeries for supposedly being ‘greedy’ and offering ‘quickie’ appointments.

I have just finished my morning surgery with 12 routine appointments lasting 10 minutes and nine emergency appointments each lasting five minutes. The afternoon session will have 15-minute slots for antenatal and postnatal checks, along with few emergency slots.

I can tell you that we do not see patients for five-minute appointments because we are greedy, but because we have a higher demand including babies and children who are unwell.

It is our practice policy to see anyone under five who is unwell on the day. This serves two main purposes - patient education for viral URTIs, and ensuring patients don’t end up in A&E with coughs, colds and rashes.

We would all like to offer patients more time to cover all their concerns and expectations, but it is not always necessary. Sometimes a common cold or mild rash needs just five minutes.

I wouldn’t see new mums and babies for pregnancy and new baby checks at a shorter appointment , as they need that time to be heard and perhaps be reassured that they are doing just fine.

I saw one patient today who had a list of things to talk about, and I only had a five-minute emergency appointment slot. We made sure there was nothing urgent or major which needed to be dealt with today, and then we agreed to discuss her concerns in more detail during a future routine appointment.

Now let’s do those home visits!

Readers' comments (2)

  • Until you talk to a patient you haven't a clue as to what their needs are! the assumption that five, ten, 15 minutes is enough, is unfair on the patient. Some patients do only need a few minutes, but patients with mental health problems may need much more, as will those with multiple problems that should book double slots.
    It is very sad indeed to know that a person right to care is decided by a ticking clock and why should a pregnant woman be more deserving of time than someone that is struggling with equally important problems ... to them if not to you??

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  • I have worked in Australia for 14 months and i totally agree one size fits all does not apply here.
    they have a standard consultation time was 15 minutes but still people with mental health and chronic illness got more time if they pre booked and warned the reception staff.

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