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CPD: Managing time in primary care

CPD: Managing time in primary care

Key learning points

  • The coding of records is vital in auditing potential problems, such as identifying inappropriate secondary care requests and your most frequent attending patients.
  • Improving the efficiency of reception staff will not only save time but will also reduce the amount of patient anger and frustration they face.
  • Sending patients a quick ‘how-to’ guide before your call will help a video consultation run more smoothly.
  • If you have documents that you need to share with your team, don’t use email. Use an intranet or document-sharing platform, and send an email solely to highlight that there is a new document.
  • Meetings are the single biggest use of clinician time outside consultations. Maximise the efficiency of each meeting by using a clear agenda and really scrutinizing whether the meeting is needed.

Dr Edward Pooley is a GP in Nottingham, and is the author of Managing Time in Medicine: Developing Efficient Consulting in Primary Care (

Time management is a skill all GPs are expected to be good at; after all, we balance patient demands, sort referrals, deal with staff questions and ensure blood results are filed. But many of us struggle with it and the insidious demands of primary care mean poor time management can lead to mental illness, strained family relationships and burnout.

Many of the contributing factors are outside GPs’ control. But there are ways to make changes within your practice, with outside bodies, within your consultation, and in your job outside the consultation room.

Identifying potential problems and quick-win solutions

The coding of records is vital in auditing potential problems. Good coding can help:

  • Identify inappropriate secondary care requests.
  • Highlight where blood tests are being followed up by different GPs.
  • Determine who are the top 10% of your frequently attending patients.

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