The average length of a GP consultation of 10 minutes in the UK is "crazy", but family doctors are "ridiculously overworked" and in short supply, RCGP president Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard has told the BBC.
Her comments follow a recent Health Foundation poll of 11,547 GPs from 11 different countries - including Germany and the US - which indicates that the amount of time given to patients in consultations in the UK is the lowest in OECD countries, with 92 percent carried out in under 15 minutes compared to an average of 27 percent in other nations.
Furthermore, just 26 percent of GPs in the UK reported being satisfied with the amount of time spent with patients during consultations, compared with 59 percent across the other surveyed countries.
"GPs want to spend more time with our patients. We want the time to talk through all the different things that might be making a patient ill, and come up with a solid treatment plan in the best interests of their long term health – that's what GPs do. But with so many patients living with multiple conditions, affecting both physical and mental health, this simply isn't possible in 10 minutes," Dr Stokes-Lampard said in a statement.
However, she also noted that it would be "incredibly difficult" to fit in longer consultations as standard because of current pressures on the system. "Demand for our services has risen exponentially over the last few years, with recent research showing a 15 percent rise in patient consultations since 2010, but the number of GPs has not risen in step. Longer consultation times for some would mean fewer consultations on offer overall," she said.
"We spend less than other European countries. We have fewer doctors than other European nations. We have one third of the hospital beds per head compared to Germany for example, GPs spend less time per patient than any other European nations. We need to be addressing these issues as a priority," the British Medical Association's Dr Chaand Nagpaul told the BBC.
GP leaders in England are hailing the GP Forward View and its promise of an extra £2.4 billion a year and 5,000 more GPs by 2020 as "a lifeline for our profession", but also fear the potential negative impact of Sustainability and Transformation plans, which are eventually to be produced by every health and care system in England to show how local services will evolve and become sustainable over the next five years but in many cases seem to be side-stepping general practice.
"As it stands in England, there are two Sustainability and Transformation Plans that actually propose reducing the GP workforce, there are five that don't mention the GP Forward View at all - and there are many others where the plans for general practice are vague at best," noted Dr Stokes-Lampard.
"This is against all common sense - the future of our health service relies on high quality, robust general practice to underpin the rest of the NHS and provide care efficiently in the community."