NHS Alliance and Primary Care Foundation study finds a quarter of NHS GP appointments are wasted

Quarter of Doctors Appointments wasted

I’m not sure why so many researchers are so fixated on publishing the results of surveys that merely highlight how inefficient undocumented in-office consultations with GPs are when the Doctor/Patient/Carer aren’t being provided with any opportunities to prepare or share information before the consultation.

An audit of 5,128 GP Consultations is always going to be confusing/misleading (because GPs don’t record much in their records and certainly not the safety net that they offer in their Consultations) but finding “that 27% of GP appointments could be freed up by better use of technology to lighten administrative burdens, greater coordination with hospitals and if patients were signposted to other health professionals or self-care” gets us nowhere if we’re not going to change and will simply continue waiting until the Consult room door opens before we pay any attention to why the Patient wants to consult with a GP eg. read here how openly NHS GPs admit to making suicidal Patients schedule 9am appointments with them for Monday morning.

I can’t stress how important it is that we all appreciate that the 2,000 year old model of healthcare is broken forever and that the product Doctors choose to make can no longer continue to be unprepared office visits.

The challenge is not being able to say “One-in-six patients could have been treated elsewhere” or that “overworked family doctors used time equivalent to an estimated 15m appointments rearranging hospital appointments and chasing test results” it’s in proposing ways by which we can safely identify which Patients don’t need a GP consult and refer them directly to the most appropriate ‘elsewhere’ (be that another Carer or an administrator) without having them schedule an appointment and/or attend the clinic.

I haven’t read the report (at 83 pages I plan to read it on my next flight) but it’s suggestion that we can simply extend “the GP team to incorporate other health professionals” ignores the reality that the GP team today already incorporates other health professionals. There’s an abundance of evidence that show Patients aren’t going to be content having an administrator screen them and that it will fail the mother test but above and beyond that non-evidence based attempts to triage Patients as though it is somehow the easy bit where you can cut corners and save money will put Patients in danger and cost the NHS billions in compensation payments.

We know from a published Mayo Clinic study that as many as 40% of Primary Care Consultations can be managed by Doctors if they provide their Patients with online access to Medical History Taking questionnaires and we now have the opportunity to get behind and support GPs who are empowering their Patients with these clinically validated tools eg. check out the AskMyGP service (mentioned on page 59 of the report) and Haughton Thornley Medical Centres.

Related Post: Are Patients wasting GPs time OR are undocumented Doctor office visit only models wasting everyone’s time?

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