Letters: 10 minutes not enough for multiple problems

Working as a GP locum across several areas and surgeries, I have been struck by how universally patients bring multiple problems to the 'one-problem-10-minute GP appointment'.

I think this is a significant source of stress for GPs and addressing this problem could be very helpful to the more effective running of primary care.

At four of the surgeries I regularly locum at, I examined groups of 10 patients at each surgery. In three of the surgeries, 20 per cent of patients thought there was an unlimited time for GP appointments.

In all of the surgeries tested the average range of problems brought per appointment was 1.2-1.75. Although this was a small-scale analysis, it confirmed that patients typically bring more than one problem to the 10-minute GP appointment slot.

If this misunderstanding was clarified to the public, the stress levels of GPs would be considerably reduced and patient care would inevitably improve.

I think an initiative to publicise this information on a mass scale would be most effective and the result would be a service that is more beneficial to the public.

If a character in EastEnders mentioned that the GP told them appointments are 10 minutes, which is time for one problem (and if more time is required, they can request a double appointment) that would be very effective.

Dr Sarah Doyle, Horley, Surrey.

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