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GP timesheets: do they work?

I followed Bob Senior’s advice and completed a time audit over five sessions (two and a half days).

It’s a good exercise but it takes discipline. The first day I forgot until mid-afternoon, so started the next day instead.

I recorded exactly what I was doing then created the categories later.

I was surprised at how much time I did spend on patient contact (face to face appointments and telephone consultations, 50%), and then 20.27% on patient-related administration.  

I’m a salaried GP rather than a partner, and I suspect most partners would get a different pattern appearing.  Also my practice has quite a structured day, with timetabled group tea-breaks, and dedicated time for some admin tasks and telephone consultations.  

Even when trying to be compliant with a time audit there are things that are difficult to record accurately – quick or soft things like a short chat with a colleague to give advice, or quickly signing a prescription.     

At this level of 87.84% of time spent on patient care and patient administration tasks I don’t seem to have a lot of room to make more time.

I plan to repeat the exercise again and see if anything different emerges.

Dr Pamela Bowyer is a GP in Coalville, Leicestershire.

Have you analysed the way you spend your working day? Did it change the way you feel about what you do?