Medico-legal group warns 'tsunami' of guidelines swamping GPs

An 'impractical and burdensome' quantity of guidelines is swamping GPs and may mean crucial information is being missed, a medico-legal group has warned.

The group said the sheer number of guidelines produced each month was eroding their value.

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) found that 15 guidelines aimed at GPs were published in just 31 days in October by key health organisations such as NICE, the DH, the RCGP and the Care Quality Commission.

The majority ran to over 30 pages, with some as long as 100 sheets.

Dr Stephanie Bown, MPS director of policy and communications, said: 'The tsunami of unfocussed guidelines and protocols received each month is undermining their value.'

There is an expectation of doctors to have local knowledge about every subject, she said, but this is a 'wholly unrealistic and unnecessary source of pressure'.

'It is absolutely right that a doctor keeps abreast of new and emerging developments in their field of practice, but to expect a high level of awareness of everything is impractical and unnecessarily burdensome. More should be done to help doctors identify and focus on the information that is relevant to their practice.'

In the past 12 months, NICE alone has published 111 guidelines and appraisals across all medical disciplines. Many of these concern primary care and GPs, directly or indirectly.

The institute is set to substantially increase its output next year when many new quality standards are published.

Dr John Adams, associate medico-legal adviser at the MPS and a practising hospital doctor, said: 'Often the guidelines are so specialised that it is not relevant to all doctors’ practice. The danger is that doctors may receive so many emails of varying importance that the most crucial information is being missed.'

Dr Adams called for the publishing of guidance to be co-ordinated across health organisations, including summaries of key points on all documents.

A NICE spokesman said: 'We are committed to helping GPs and other doctors access our advice in the easiest and quickest ways possible. We do not send unsolicited mail or email to GPs.'

He added that NICE had recently introduced a section of its website soley for GPs, and has also launched NICE Pathways, which presents guidance and support documents in topic-based flowcharts.

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 dilemma: What should I do if a parent sends their child with COVID-19 symptoms to school?

GP dilemma: What should I do if a parent sends their child with COVID-19 symptoms to school?

Medical Protection's Dr Clare Devlin offers advice on how GPs should respond to parents...

GPs risk missing out on vital COVID-19 risk assessments, BMA warns

GPs risk missing out on vital COVID-19 risk assessments, BMA warns

GPs risk missing out on COVID-19 risk assessments unless practices are guaranteed...

GPs call for partial suspension of network DES amid heavy workload

GPs call for partial suspension of network DES amid heavy workload

GPs leading primary care networks (PCNs) have called for the partial suspension of...

UK COVID-19 alert level raised as GPs prioritised for testing

UK COVID-19 alert level raised as GPs prioritised for testing

The government has raised the UK's COVID-19 alert level to four amid reports that...

UK on course for 50,000 COVID-19 cases a day by mid-October

UK on course for 50,000 COVID-19 cases a day by mid-October

The UK could see 50,000 COVID-19 cases per day by mid-October, with the epidemic...

Stricter short-term COVID-19 measures needed to avoid second national lockdown, BMA warns

Stricter short-term COVID-19 measures needed to avoid second national lockdown, BMA warns

COVID-19 infection rates will ‘soar’ and the NHS will ‘once again be crippled’ if...