Over a quarter of GP appointments avoidable

A new report has found that over 27 per cent of GP appointments could potentially be avoided if there was more coordinated working between GPs and hospitals, greater utilisation of primary care staff, more effective use of technology to streamline administrative burdens and wider system changes.

The report by the NHS Alliance and the Primary Care Foundation found that a significant amount of GP time could be freed up if family doctors spent less time rearranging hospital appointments and chasing up test results. The report also estimates that one in six patients could potentially been seen by other primary care staff, such as clinical pharmacists, practice nurses or physician assistants, or they could be supported to meet their own health needs.

The study argues that the reduction of bureaucracy in general practice should be made a national priority. In particular the report calls for streamlined payment systems and to simplify and speed up how much time practice managers spend on entering data.

Dr Jonathan Serjeant, GP and national lead for NHS Alliance’s Accelerate programme, said: "GPs and their colleagues are experts in listening, supporting and diagnosing their patients. This is what we’ve been trained to do, and what we want to do.

"If applied quickly, the recommendations set out in this report, particularly those around extending the GP team to incorporate other health professionals, will help reduce the current levels of bureaucracy GPs face on a daily basis. The end result is that GP time is freed up, and people have access to all their information whenever they need it."

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