What we did
Group consultations replace one-to-one consultations and reviews, and offer up to 300% savings in clinical time. For an individual practice this can save up to 50% of GP time.
Group consultations can be used for any long-term condition, but we mainly use them for patients with diabetes or respiratory problems. The consultation involves 10-15 patients simultaneously, for approximately 90 minutes. For the first 30 minutes, a practice nurse trained in facilitation works with participants to identify questions for the GP. The patients’ clinical test results are written up for everyone to see.
Then the GP joins for 45 minutes and works with the group, answering questions, with everyone listening and learning. The GP leaves, and for the final 15 minutes, participants review and set personal goals, reflecting on and sharing what they have learned.
Each participant signs a confidentiality agreement at every session. Challenges remain – for example, finding an efficient way to take notes for the care record – but the scheme has had great benefits.
I’ve been doing group consultations for more than a year and from the first session I could see it worked really well for people.
There is significant duplication in the questions patients want to ask, which can really grind GPs down over a clinic of traditional 10-minute appointments, and group consultations minimise this.
The open-group review of clinical measures like blood pressure and HbA1c is very powerful and has had a significant impact on patients’ beliefs and attitudes. For instance, I had several patients who were in denial about their diabetes. When they compared their numbers with those of their peers, they realised they needed to take action.
From Dr Priya Kumar, Slough