It is inevitable that sometimes we do fail to keep to time for appointments and understandably this is a common source of irritation for our patients; there is however a lot you can do to help us and we hope you will read this information for everybody’s benefit.
In general the NHS expects GPs to deal with your problems within a 10 minute appointment; this is better than in the past – in the 1980s the average was 6 minutes.
However GPs deal with a lot more time consuming preventative work than in the past, there is a lot more to pack into each consultation – the extra 4 minutes does not compensate!
The problem is not only a UK/NHS issue, Statistics show that in the Spanish Health Service GPs have 6 minutes per patient on average and in Germany 8 minutes so we’re actually doing quite well.
Sometimes delays can be rather unavoidable due to a patient being unexpectedly seriously ill or needing urgent hospital admission, other times a problem presented is very complicated and time consuming and has to be sorted immediately; this can lead to subsequent appointments running late, fortunately such complex and prolonged consultations are relatively rare.
However the much commoner cause of delays is that several patients each surgery simply underestimate how much time their various problems take. Inevitably numerous issues takes very much more than 10 minute leading to delays for the next patients.
The following things do cause us problems keeping to time:
- Presenting a long list of problems is unlikely to be dealt with effectively in 10 minutes.
- Asking for another person (or more) to be seen ‘while I’m here’ after their own consultation.
- Asking for repeat prescriptions during the consultation.
- Spend 10 minutes talking about a minor problem and then suddenly announce a much more serious problem at the end of the consultation which cannot safely be postponed to another time (the ‘while I am here question’ – almost as leaving the room).
So please – help us help you get the best out of your consultation
- If you have several problems summarise them for the doctor briefly at the beginning. The doctor can then help you prioritise the most urgent or significant issues. You may probably then need to make a further appointment on another day to deal with the less significant problems. Please understand why the doctor may advise this.
- Use your appointment time effectively and help us keep to time for everybody’s benefit by telling us of only one significant problem per consultation. However we can usually deal with 2 simple problems effectively during your appointment. The more you throw at us – the less effective we will be.
- Please do be prepared for the doctor to advise that you make a second appointment to discuss the unrelated and less significant issues. It’s safer for you – and helpful to those following.
- Your appointment is for one person only – please don’t ask us to deal with a second person ‘while I am here’.
- Please don’t use your consultation time to obtain repeat prescriptions.
- If there is a particular letter or result you want to discuss please tell the receptionist in advance so we can see it is available. Unfortunately we can experience very significant delays in receiving letters from hospitals over which we have no control. (several weeks sometimes)
- Finally please don’t answer your mobile phone calls during the consultation . How would you feel if the GP answered theirs? Please put your phone on ‘silent’ mode.