GP leaders are reiterating their call for longer consultation times on the back of a new analysis showing that patients with multi-morbidities account for more than half of appointments.
The study, which was published in the British Journal of General Practice, looked at data from more than 400,000 GP-registered patients, of which 27.2 percent were found to have at least two long-term conditions, such as hypertension (18.2 percent) and chronic pain (10.1 percent).
According to the data, patients with multimorbidity accounted for 52.9 percent of GP consultations, 78.7 percent of prescriptions, and 56.1 percent of hospital admissions.
The study authors concluded that multimorbidity is “common, socially patterned, and associated with increased health service utilisation,” and that their findings “support the need to improve the quality and efficiency of health services providing care to patients with multimorbidity at both practice and national level.”
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the research provides “further evidence of the increasing complexity of cases that GPs are dealing with, and the inadequacy of the standard 10-minute consultation.
“GPs need much more time with our patients with complex needs, so that we can properly consider their unique circumstances – including the different conditions they are living with – and develop the most appropriate treatment plan for them. This simply isn't possible in 10 minutes, but offering longer appointments means offering fewer appointments and our patients are already waiting too long to secure time with their GP.”
She went on to stress that GP workload has increased by at least 16 percent over the last decade and in complexity, but the share of the overall NHS budget for general practice is less than it was a decade ago, while the profession is also grappling with a workforce crisis.
"We need to see NHS England's GP Forward View, which promises £2.4bn extra a year for general practice, 5,000 more GPs, and for every practice to have access to one of 3,000 new mental health therapists, delivered in full and as a matter of urgency,” she stressed.