10-minute appointment rule scrapped
Published on 18 November 2013 03:00 PM
GP consultations will no longer have to last a minimum of 10 minutes, giving doctors greater flexibility over how they organise their appointments.
Revealed by the BBC, it is one of a number of requirements being removed in the latest round of contract negotiations between the Government and doctors' leaders.
Other changes include enhanced care for the million frailest patients across England, plus named GPs for the 4 million over-75s.
The decision to make amendments to the Quality and Outcomes Framework, which accounts for a significant proportion of the funding practices receive, comes amid concerns surrounding the number of 'boxes' that doctors are required to 'tick'.
Appointments will be managed on case-by-case basis
It is hoped that the changes, due to take effect from next April, will give GPs the freedom to use their clinical judgement on a case-by-case basis, rather than them having to adhere to a series of strict criteria.
'The 10-minute appointment just isn't appropriate any more,' said Dr Dean Marshall, who is part of the British Medical Association's GP negotiating team.
'Some patients just need a quick 5 minutes with us while other patients need much longer because of the complex nature of their health problems.'
NHS England claims consultations last for around 12 minutes on average.
The Quality and Outcomes Framework is effectively a points based system. It covers a wide range of targets, each of which has a number of points attached.
These points are linked to funding, so the more a practice achieves, the more funding it gets.
Around a quarter of the points in the framework have been removed under the changes and the funding tied to them - equating to around £290 million - has been transferred to the main practice funding pot.
'GPs are professionals who know what is best for their patients,' a spokesperson for the NHS commented.
'They should have the flexibility to decide how long an appointment needs to be and how many patients they can see in one day, using their clinical judgement, based on the needs of their patients.'
Copyright Press Association 2013