Pressure of 10-minute consultations undermining GP compassion, warns GMC

GPs are struggling to provide compassionate care to patients under the strict pressures of 10-minute consultations, a report published by the GMC has warned.

Problems arising due to the professional isolation of doctors, fragmentation of care and poor communication are threatening the wellbeing of doctors, according to the GMC.

The Medical Professionalism Matters report, launched on Tuesday at the GMC conference in London, compiles feedback from more than 1,000 doctors who responded to polls online and at GMC events held to gauge the challenges facing the medical profession.

The report assessed issues relating to ethics, resilience, collaboration, compassion, scholarship and patient safety.

Professional isolation

Doctors warned of a ‘yawning communication gap between primary and secondary care’, which many felt had grown worse over the last 20 years.

Many reported the current working environment was the ‘most challenging of their career’, as they battled against the pressures of day-to-day practice.

Doctors said they did not believe their colleagues were any less compassionate than 20 years ago, but 44% felt that increasing time pressures and higher patient demand had undermined care.

GPs said 10-minute appointments were driving these pressures. The report said: ‘Many doctors complained there was not enough time to give patients the attention they needed.

'GPs said the 10 minutes they were allotted per patient was far too short. Paradoxically, it is precisely in the most pressured situations that compassion becomes even more important.

Compassionate GPs

‘Organisations were increasingly businesslike. That meant they tended to focus on process and what was measurable – which meant compassion could be neglected because it was difficult to quantify.’

Just one in five doctors polled by the GMC described their current place of work as a ‘supportive working environment’.

The report warns that professionally isolated groups – particularly locums, GPs and community doctors – are at risk of succumbing to pressure because they lack support networks.

Single-hander GPs were identified as being particularly hard to reach. The report said it was ‘especially vital’ for these doctors to talk to other professionals.

But one GP commented that this was a problem for the profession at large: ‘Single-handed GPs used to be a problem but now all GPs are isolated even in big practices because there is just no time for them to build relationships.’

Almost half (47%) of respondents feared they might be penalised if they asked for help because they were struggling.

GMC chairman Professor Terence Stephenson said: ‘We all know medicine is immensely challenging and sometimes issues can seem insurmountable.

‘But throughout this series I have been incredibly heartened and encouraged by the amount of passion and determination participants showed towards finding collaborative solutions to the challenges the profession as a whole faces. It has been immensely gratifying to hear views and ideas from such a wide range of doctors, from across the profession and across the UK.’

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

Salaried roles now the most attractive career option for GPs, poll reveals

Salaried roles now the most attractive career option for GPs, poll reveals

Salaried jobs are now the most attractive career option for GPs, according to a GPonline...

PCN funding worth millions at risk as rising GP workload hits recruitment

PCN funding worth millions at risk as rising GP workload hits recruitment

GPs fear millions of pounds in primary care funding could be lost because rising...

Medico-legal: Intimate examinations and chaperones during COVID-19

Medico-legal: Intimate examinations and chaperones during COVID-19

Remote consultations are likely to be a key part of general practice for months to...

NHS England promises detail on additional flu funding ‘by end of August’

NHS England promises detail on additional flu funding ‘by end of August’

GPs may have to wait until the end of August to find out details of any additional...

Why 63% of GPs expect to do more home-working after COVID-19

Why 63% of GPs expect to do more home-working after COVID-19

Working from home was one of the key issues raised in GPonline's survey of more than...

Lack of support during the menopause leading female doctors to quit

Lack of support during the menopause leading female doctors to quit

A lack of support during the menopause has led some female doctors to consider reducing...