Scots GPs unimpressed by listening skills survey

GPs attending the RCGP conference in Glasgow were unimpressed by the Scottish Government's announcement of a new patient survey asking for an assessment of doctors' listening skills.

Shona Robinson: New Survey asks patients about the aspects most important to them.
Shona Robinson: New Survey asks patients about the aspects most important to them.

Shona Robison, minister for public health, told delegates that the newly developed survey, which is due to be sent out later this month, would ask patients about the aspects of general practice that was ‘the most important to them'.

This included knowledge of a person's medical history, having the time to listen and clearly explaining the medicines being prescribed.

The survey will also ask about areas covered in previous questionnaires such as access.

Each practice will receive a report on the results, said Ms Robison, ‘to better understand their strengths and weaknesses from the patient's point of view'.

David Cunningham, a GP from Irvine, said consultations were already too crammed to worry about whether the patient felt listened to.

‘It would be nice to spend that time but the workload of the new contract already intrudes into the consultation, asking people about smoking and diabetes and all these other things,' he said.

‘The only answer is to make the consultation longer and that's not possible,' he added.

Dr Gareth Evans, a GP in Edinburgh and HMS Faslane, said an in-depth knowledge of medical history was not always necessary.

‘It doesn't require me to know a lot about them when they're looking for a sick line because they've broken their wrist,' he said.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's health secretary and deputy first minister, had been scheduled to speak at the RCGP event yesterday. But a debate in Scottish Parliament on the minimum pricing of alchol meant she was replaced by Ms Robison.

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