Editorial: Cutting paperwork would ease workload crisis

This week, GP reveals that the amount of paperwork GPs have to do is spiralling out of control. According to our survey, 23% of GPs are now spending more than half their time on paperwork.

Some 91% say paperwork has increased over the past five years, with many warning that much of this is irrelevant to patient care.

Last week, we revealed results from the same survey that showed mounting anger among GPs over reforms to the NHS in England, workload and cuts to income and pensions. Two-thirds of GPs rated workload as one of their top three concerns for the profession in 2012.

Rising workload, which includes a seemingly ever-increasing amount of paperwork, is beginning to take its toll. Many GPs are contemplating early retirement, some partners are considering a move to a salaried role or portfolio career in a bid to regain a better work-life balance and other GPs want to leave the profession altogether.

This situation is also affecting the next generation of GPs. Medical students who see their GP tutors and mentors spending more time on 'irrelevant' paperwork than actually seeing patients would be forgiven for thinking 'this is not what I am training to do'.

What's more, if the comments and emails that GP receives are anything to go by, many GPs would baulk at actively recommending the profession to existing and prospective medical students.

If patients are to get the best care possible (and the NHS is to get the best 'value for money' from GPs) it is essential that GPs are able to use their time and skills for what they have trained for - seeing and treating patients.

Some paperwork is essential to patient care or the effective running of the health service, but the government must address the plethora of pointless forms GPs are required to complete. Cutting paperwork would go a long way to easing the workload crisis that is engulfing the profession.

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