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GPs spending less time with patients

By Amy Fallon

Six in 10 GPs feel that the time spent with their patients during consultations has been cut over the last five years, as they struggle to cope with the surge in administrative red tape, according to the results of Pulse's State of the Profession Survey.

Our poll of 576 GPs found that just 8% of GPs felt the time spent with their patients had improved over the same period.

The survey also found 59% of GPs believed that there had been a drop in their practice's ability to meet patient expectations in the past five years, with many linking this to the increase in administrative tasks.

Just over half of GPs felt the autonomy in their role had declined in the past five years, with the same proportion reporting that their pay had worsened.

Working hours had worsened for 52% of GPs, and improved for just 24%, while 45% felt that the overall level of NHS care had gone downhill, compared with just 17% who felt it had improved.

A quarter of GPs said their relationship with patients had deteriorated, but the same proportion felt this aspect had improved.

There was a more positive response on leadership opportunities, with 26% reporting that opportunities had increased, compared with 15% who said they had decreased.

Many GPs identified bureaucracy as a reason they were spending less time with patients.

Dr Tony Grewal, medical director of Londonwide LMCs, called for more emphasis to be placed on valuing continuity of care.

He said: 'Opening hours and cleanliness of waiting rooms are measured, but no one looks at the actual reason we exist – to see and manage patients who are on our registered list with continuity with care. We need to raise awareness of that.'

Dr Alice Hodkinson, a GP in Saffron Walden, Essex, said: 'The more rules and regulations we have, we end up not being able to treat the patient.'

GPs spending less time with patients