Group consultations 'reduce demand and improve efficiency' for GPs

Group consultations can help 'reduce demand and improve efficiency' for GPs and empower patients with long-term health issues to self-care, the RCGP annual conference has been told.

Dr Emily Symington (Photo: Pete Hill)
Dr Emily Symington (Photo: Pete Hill)

Speaking at the conference in Glasgow on Friday, Dr Emily Symington, a GP and member of the governing body of Croydon CCG in south London, urged the audience to ‘take a leap of faith’ by embedding group consultations into general practice. She said that GPs were ‘kidding themselves’ if they thought long-term conditions could be managed effectively under the current 10-minute consultation model.

Also speaking at the event, Alison Manson, national training lead for group consultations, explained that group consutlations were a ‘one-to-one clinical consultations delivered in a supportive group setting with around 10-15 patients [who usually have] a similar condition and a similar set of clinical problems’.

She said: ‘[Group consultations are] managed by a process facilitator so you as the clinician are not there for the full time, you join the session about 20 minutes in when a lot of the footwork has been done for you.

‘They last for about an hour and a half to two hours but the clinician will only be there for about 45 minutes. The interesting thing is that you may only have a matter of a couple of minutes with each patient but they leave the session feeling that they’ve had 45 minutes to an hour of your time and that’s a massive thing for patients  - they just can’t believe that they’re getting all this time with the GP or nurse - whoever the clinician happens to be.’

She added that group consultations also 'empower patients' by promoting self care.

Group consultations

Dr Symington said: ‘With a group consultation, because you’re seeing more people in one go you can see them more frequently, more quickly, it’s easier to provide continuity of care and accessibility [ for patients]... We have not yet had a single patient who has come out the other side of a group consultation and has not said it wasn’t a good thing.’

She said that statistics from innovation foundation NESTA had found that consultants applying group clinics in outpatient settings saw 15 patients in the time it had previously taken to see nine, representing a 40% productivity gain.

‘People say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, and maybe we’re a little guilty of that in the health service,' Dr Symington said. 'If we’re going to start to address the tide of lifestyle conditions and long-term conditions we need to start thinking what we can do differently, because at the moment were not in our one-to-one model. It’s getting worse.

'But, for me, group consultations have started to address that. They address a lot of the challenges we grapple with on a day to day basis They reduce demand and improve efficiency.'

Read more from the RCGP annual conference

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GP training: Useful resources when preparing for the AKT

GP training: Useful resources when preparing for the AKT

Dr Branavan Anandasundaram highlights useful resources that GP trainees can use to...

GP training: How to succeed in the AKT

GP training: How to succeed in the AKT

Dr Branavan Anandasundaram passed the AKT earlier this year with a score of 89.5%....

Medico-legal: Advice on prescribing opioids

Medico-legal: Advice on prescribing opioids

The MDU's Dr Ellie Mein advises on how to avoid the medico-legal risks associated...

Map: How CQC ratings for general practice vary across England

Map: How CQC ratings for general practice vary across England

An overwhelming 95% of GP practices in England are rated either 'good' or 'outstanding'...

Rise in GP waiting times 'driving more patients to Google health advice'

Rise in GP waiting times 'driving more patients to Google health advice'

Longer waits for GP appointments may be pushing more patients to search for health...

GP locum rates continue to rise in most parts of the UK, poll reveals

GP locum rates continue to rise in most parts of the UK, poll reveals

Average hourly rates received by locums have risen across England over the past 12...