GP appointment length under threat in London

NHS London wants to reduce the length of GP appointments by a third, according to a BMA-commissioned report.

'London's NHS On the Brink' warns hospital services in London could close or be downgraded as healthcare in the capital heads towards ‘a major financial and organisational crisis', with the imposition of real-term cuts of £5 billion by 2017.

The report lists a series of recommendations to NHS London by management consultants McKinsey, which have not been confirmed.

These include a reduction in prescribing costs by between 10 and 15% and GPs to be paid on a fee-for-service basis of £50 per consultation to cover extended hours and out-of-hours.

On the threat to GP appointment length, the report states: ‘There is no evidence to demonstrate that these cuts are possible or could be implemented without damage to quality of patient care.'

An NHS London spokesman said: ‘We are looking at how we can care for patients better and more quickly by simplifying work processes.  We are also investing heavily in workforce development so that we have the correct mix of well-trained staff to deliver a higher standard of care.

 ‘Reducing the average GP appointment time is not about simply seeing patients quickly.  Instead it is based on examples of best practice within London and elsewhere to enable more GPs to see more patients by scheduling their time more effectively.  NHS London will be consulting with GPs and Londonwide LMCs regarding appointment time and out-of-hours care during 2010.'

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