One in six doctor’s appointments in England last less than five minutes, according to new data which shows patients are being ‘crammed in’.
NHS data shows millions of patients are being seen in one- to five-minute slots, amid warnings that shortages of general practitioners mean patients are increasingly rushed.
The House of Commons Library analysis is based on NHS data for the year between March 2022, when that data was first published, and February this year.
They show that, on average, 17.2% of GP appointments in England over the past year have lasted less than five minutes.
This suggests around 51 million appointments of less than five minutes in 12 months.
However, in some areas the percentage of patients undergoing express appointments was far higher.
West Suffolk, home to former health secretary Matt Hancock’s constituency, had the highest proportion of short general practitioner appointments than anywhere else in the country with 21.8 per cent lasting five minutes or less.
Other areas with the highest proportion of short term appointments were West Leicestershire (20.9%), Ipswich and East Suffolk (20.9%) and North East Lincolnshire (20.0%). This contrasts with Fylde and Wyre in Lancashire where only one in ten GP appointments lasted under 5 minutes.
Failure to recruit enough general practitioners
Research has previously found that Britain has some of the shortest average dates among similarly wealthy countries around the world.
The Royal College of General Practice has called for standard general practitioner appointments to be at least 15 minutes by 2030, with longer appointments for those with complex needs.
International research last month found that British patients face shorter GP appointments and are less likely to see a doctor in person.
The study of 10,000 general practitioners in 10 high-income countries, conducted by the Health Foundation, found Britain had the shortest appointment times, averaging 10 minutes, along with Germany. Sweden had the longest slots at 25 minutes, with Switzerland and the United States averaging times of 20 minutes, and most countries averaging 15 minutes.
The Liberal Democrats said the new analysis of NHS data reflected the government’s failure to recruit enough general practitioners, leaving patients ‘waiting for weeks to get an appointment only to be rushed within minutes’.
Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, said: ‘Many patients need time to adequately discuss their symptoms with a GP, especially when they have complex health issues.
“But the government’s failure to recruit the extra general practitioners it promised has meant that doctors are forced to cram in ever shorter appointments.
“15 minute appointments as standard”
“People are left waiting for weeks to get an appointment only to be rushed within minutes.
“Whole communities are paying the price for years of neglect under the Conservatives, which have brought down local health services.
“The Liberal Democrats have set out a plan to increase the number of general practitioners and grant people the right to an appointment within a week, so that people can finally get the care and attention they deserve.”
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams are working exceptionally hard in the face of the intense workload and pressures from the workforce to ensure their patients receive safe, timely and adequate care.
“In the time period analyzed by the Lib Dems, 345.8 million consultations in general practice were carried out and almost 40% lasted more than 10 minutes – more than half, if we exclude those of unknown duration.
“Increasingly, GPs need more time with patients, particularly if they have complex or multiple health issues. This is why the College has required standard 15-minute doctor appointments and longer for those who need them.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “To ensure patients get the care they need, we are ramping up capacity with hundreds more general practitioners than last year, record numbers in training, and have nearly reached our goal of providing 26,000 primary care staff. more.
“We are making progress on improving access to ensure patients needing an appointment are seen within two weeks and those with urgent needs are seen the same day and will finalize details of further support soon, through our patient recovery plan. primary care and our long-term workforce plan.”