The GPC should work to impose restrictions on the number of patient contacts allowed each day per GP to ‘a level comparable to other EU countries’, LMC representatives voted, after hearing that GPs in the UK are the ‘most stressed’ with the ‘smallest amount of time to spend on patients’.
They also voted for patient consultations to be increased to at least 15 minutes.
Calls for unsafe 12-hour days to be ‘outlawed’ were passed as a reference, while proposals to reduce core hours and cap the working week at 48 hours were lost.
Proposing the motion, GPC member Dr Helena McKeown warned that GPs are maintaining a ‘suicidal workload ethic’. One in five GPs are becoming ill as a result of workload pressures, she added.
‘The relentless appointment treadmill leaves us deeply unsatisfied, worried we missed something and stressed alongside our patients,’ she told conference. ‘It’s a threat to our own health and to our patients’ safety. The government must prioritise efforts to alleviate these pressures.’
Dr Zoe Norris, from Hull and East Yorkshire LMC, said: ‘GPs have always been patient advocates. The current reality and vision of the future of general practice harms the most vulnerable patients who cannot make their voices heard.
‘It is these vulnerable patients that are coming to harm now in the way we are working, and they will continue to dos if we don’t draw a line. We need to draw a line to the GPC about what is acceptable and safe to our patients.’
Dr Michael Griffiths, from Gwent LMC, spoke against the motion. ‘One of the great advantages of our model is it allows is to shape our own working day. We can decide how much – or how little – you want to earn.
‘We cannot insist of a limit on the working limit without losing our independent contractor status and the respect of patients.’