Doctors at ‘breaking point’.

I am well aware of staffing problems in my own doctor’s surgery and now comes new research by the Liberal Democrats which shows that GPs are beng stretched to breaking point, with patients facing brief appointments due to the workload. 

Thousands of patients in Bath and North East Somerset are being rushed through an appointment with their GP in less than 5 minutes, new research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

Bath Liberal Democrats have blasted the “stark postcode lottery” facing people in the area, with 66,383 GP appointments in April clocking in at under 5 minutes. The party has raised fears that many patients are not being seen for long enough by their doctor to be properly assessed. 

The new figures show that 20% of GP appointments in Bath and North East Somerset in April lasted for under 5 minutes while almost 50%  lasted for under 10 minutes. Out of the 328,027 GP appointments in that month, a staggering [66,383 were under 5 minutes long and 89,083 came in at under 10 minutes.

NHS figures show that across England as a whole, around one in five (22%) of the 16.6 million GP appointments in April lasted five minutes or less. Only half of all appointments across the country lasted longer than 10 minutes.

Wera Hobhouse MP

Commenting on GP services in Bath, Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse MP said:

“These figures expose GP services are stretched to breaking point. People in our area deserve better. The Conservatives promised to recruit more family doctors but they are nowhere to be seen. Even once people manage to get an appointment, too often they are rushed through because doctors have to fit so many patients in.

“Doctors need to have time to properly assess their patients, especially those with conditions that are complex or getting worse whilst waiting for hospital treatment. Instead, patients are being treated like goods on a factory conveyor belt. It is completely unsustainable and the Government needs to get a grip.”

Cllr Kevin Guy

Cllr Kevin Guy, Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council commented: 

“This is the sad reality for many across Bath and North East Somerset. The Conservatives have failed to deliver on their promise to recruit more family doctors and its having a real impact on people’s lives. 

“GP’s are being over-worked and over-stretched meaning they have to rush through appointments to cope with the demand. The Government needs to face up to the problem and take proper action to alleviate the massive pressure on GP services.”

A breakdown of the Liberal Democrat analysis by region and Clinical Commissioning Group is available here.

Original source: NHS Digital, Appointments in General Practice, April 2022

The Royal College of General Practice has previously called for the standard ten-minute GP consultation to be brought to an end, and for face-to-face appointments to be at least 15 minutes by 2030. However, the latest figures show that less than a third or 31.4% of GP appointments in April last 15 minutes or longer.

Previous research has also found that Britain has some of the shortest average GP appointments among similarly wealthy countries around the