Open letter to the Secretary of State for Health

Dear Mr Hunt
dr-workSurely by now you know the professionals and public outcry about the NHS crisis, including that ten-minute GP consultation standard is inadequate for patient care.
In view of your various and rather confusing statements about the GP work, we are not quite sure what exactly you expect the GPs to do, but focussing on the 10-minute appointment slot, the NHS Choices website does state that “GPs spend an average of 8-10 minutes with each patient” and advises patients to “plan ahead to make sure you cover everything you want to discuss”.
Here, we draw your attention to some basic examples of how ten-minute consultation practically and adversely affects patient care.
From what we know and understand, following is a summary of the complaints:
While it is possible to request longer consultation for complex or long-term medical problems, these appointments are very difficult to get or one has to wait much longer to get these.
GP consultation feels like a mechanical process, with one eye on the clock.
On taking patient history, some GPs are reluctant to track previous history (even where the patient history has been computerised), saying ‘it would take longer to do so’.
In the case of simple but multiple patient care needs like taking BP, evaluating higher pulse rate, side effects of the drugs to reduce BP, writing to refer for ECG, which take longer than 10 minutes, some GPs deal with some of these matters in one session and ask patent to have another appointment for the rest.
When prescribing a new drug, not enough time to explain pros and cons of the medicine or its possible side effects.
Not much time to address the psychological aspects of the biological problems, including biological and psychological aspects of ageing.
We look forward to hearing from you how you are going to address serious shortcomings in the patient care.
Dr Pravin Shah, Coordinator, Harrow Monitoring Group