GPs are under increasing workload pressure

Family doctors in the UK are working even harder than they did 14 years ago despite working similar hours, according to the results of a new general practice workload survey.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GP committee
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GP committee

The British Medical Association (BMA) says this is because current consultations with patients are longer and more complex and GPs are increasingly treating patients previously cared for in hospitals, raising the intensity and quality of workload to an all-time high.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, commenting on the workload survey findings that full-time GP partners work an average 44.4 hour week, said: 'Since the last workload survey in 1992/3, the average length of a consultation has risen from 8.4 minutes to 11.7 minutes.

'Research clearly shows that longer consultations deliver better care for patients. On top of this, practices are achieving outstandingly high scores on the Quality and Outcomes Framework in the new GP contract. The survey shows that hard working teams are providing higher quality care for their patients.'

Fair comparisons with the last GP workload survey in 1992/3 are difficult because so much has changed in the intervening years, says the report.

Dr Buckman said: 'Full time GP partners see over 100 patients a week face to face, give advice to another 20 on the phone, and on top of this make home visits, see elderly patients in care homes and run clinics. The survey shows that although all clinicians in the practice team work hard seeing patients, GPs provide most of the consultation workload.'

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