Letters, calls and emails: Consultation length was not debated by grass-roots GPs

Dear Editor

I was disappointed by the comments of Dr Krishna Korlipara, a GMC member, who appears to believe that the updated GMC guidance, ‘Good Medical Practice’ will necessitate a lengthening of GP consultations from 10 minutes to 15 (GP, 8 September).  

Updating GMC guidance is of course necessary, and few doctors would oppose involving patients in making decisions about their medical management. However, many would argue that this already happens in the standard GP consultation.  

It is surprising that this should translate into a 50 per cent increase in consultation length, and by implication a 33 per cent decrease in GP appointments, since very few GPs I know have much spare working time.  

It is even more surprising that Dr Korlipara should state that this will ‘accentuate the shortage of doctors’, without suggesting how the shortage will be addressed. This is in an environment in which non-EU doctors are finding it hard to get work, at least two deaneries are unable to honour appointments to GP training, PCT suspensions are increasing, and proposed regulation changes are leading many GPs to consider early retirement.  

There may be arguments for lengthening GP consultations; let those be debated openly.  

The imposition of longer consultations by the GMC with minimal discussion and without due consideration of resource implications cannot be right.  

The issues of principle underlying this report call into question the basis upon which the GMC makes its decisions — and its comments to the press.  

Dr Peter Gooderham  

Cardiff

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