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UK GP visits shorter than other rich nations

Thursday November 9th, 2017

GP consultation lengths in the UK are twice the global average – but lag well behind other developed countries, according to a major analysis published today.

In Sweden patients can expect a consultation of 22 minutes while in UK they last for less than ten minutes, according to the study in the BMJ Open.

But in Bangladesh consultations last on average just 48 seconds, contributing to a global median length of consultation of five minutes, researchers found.

The researchers say that consultations in the UK are lengthening at a minuscule rate – by four seconds a year.

US patients can expect a 20-minute consultation – and these are increasing by 20 seconds a year, the researchers find.

The researchers, led by Dr Greg Irving, of Cambridge University, UK, warn: “Little can be achieved in less than five minutes unless the focus is largely on detection and management of gross disease.

“An average of five minutes may be the limit below which consultations amount to little more than triage and the issue of prescriptions.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the UK Royal College of GPs, said: “The time GPs have to spend with our patients is precious, and the more time we are able to spend with them, the better patient-centred care we are able to provide - so it’s concerning to see that every UK study included in this research shows that we are spending less than ten minutes on average with our patients during their consultation.”

International variations in primary care physician consultation time: a systematic review of 67 countries BMJ Open 9 November 2017; doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017902 [abstract]

Tags: Asia | Europe | General Health | NHS | UK News

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