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Increase GP consultation length to 20 minutes, says BMA

By Gareth Iacobucci

The BMA has called for the duration of GP appointments to be increased to 15 or even 20 minutes to cope with the increasing complexity of patient problems.

Launching the BMA's pre-election manifesto, the association's chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the current average slots of 10 minutes were not long enough to cope with changes such as the rise in obesity and an increasingly ageing population.

But he acknowledged the move would require a ‘significant increase' in doctors and nurses', and a large investment in GP surgeries, which would be difficult to achieve in the current financial crisis.

It follows a recent Pulse investigation which showed many GPs are unable to spend enough time making eye contact with patients during consultations, with most backing calls for appointment times to be extended.

Dr Meldrum said: ‘With people living longer, and being more likely to suffer from comorbidities, the sort of work that GPs are doing is increasingly complex, and the standard 10 minute appointment is just not really enough.'

‘We would like to see a move over time to 15 to 20-minute appointments, much longer than is currently possible.'

Dr Meldrum conceded that the move would require more doctors, and would be hard to push through in the current climate, but said the target was ‘an aspiration' that the BMA was determined to talk up.

He said: ‘If you are going to be increasing the length of consultations by 50 per cent then you are going to increase the length of doctors' consultation time by 50 per cent. You are talking about a significant increase in the number of doctors.'

‘We accept that there will be a cost involved there, but it's an aspiration, an important aspiration. It's something that we want to be moving towards.'

The BMA has called for appointment times to increase to 15-20 mins BMA

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