Calls for Scottish patients to get 15-minute GP appointments

A young GP listening to a patient
A young GP listening to a patient
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Patients should get appointments with their doctor that last at least 15 minutes rather than ten, according to the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).

The college is also calling for 11 per cent of Scottish NHS funding to be allcoated to general practice to help tackle health inequalities.

The moves come as RCGP Scotland launched a new report – From the Frontline – which draws on feedback from GPs across Scotland and their thoughts and experiences with the profession.

The RCGP report said family doctors were concerned that “workload pressures”, rising patient demand and under-investment were having a significant impact on both doctors and patients.

Dr Sigi Joseph, of Pathead Medical Centre, Midlothian, said: “We are finding everyone is living longer, they’ve got more medical problems, and to give those patients the justice and service that they need, we definitely need more time as a standard.”

RCGP Scotland has called on the government to introduce a series of measures to “bolster the GP workforce and increase the level of spending”. They include more GPs brought into the system to allow for minimum 15-minute appointments as standard and doctors serving areas with high socio-economic deprivation to be appropriately resourced

RCGP Scotland’s chair, Dr Carey Lunan, said: “Nearly 40 per cent of GPs report that they feel so overwhelmed by their daily tasks that they feel they cannot cope at least once per week. A quarter also report that they are unlikely to be working in general practice in five years’ time.

“General practice is the backbone of a sustainable NHS.

“Our patients deserve better and it is time to renew general practice in Scotland. We are calling on Scottish Government to commit to urgently bolster the GP workforce and increase the level of spending in general practice to 11 per cent of the overall Scottish NHS budget.”

Scottish Labour has backed calls for more GPs and more resources for general practice.

Monica Lennon MSP said: “GPs are the frontline of our NHS, and if we do not properly support general practice then the rest of our health service suffers as a result – often with increased pressure on A&E.

“Scotland is facing a shortage of over 850 GPs by 2021, and the government’s current plans will not plug the gap – so we’re going in the opposite direction of where we need to be.

“Scottish Labour supports the calls for increased capacity within general practice, and we will continue to ask questions and make suggestions to the health secretary – because our NHS needs a plan to address growing health inequalities and workforce pressures.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson: “We welcome RCGP’s offer of support with the next phase of the GP contract and we will take time to consider the issues raised in this report. Health and equalities are at the core of everything we do and we are committed to addressing the underlying causes that drive health inequalities.

“We now have a record number of GPs working in Scotland with more per 100,000 population in Scotland than rest of UK and we are increasing the number by a further 800 over the next decade.”