GPs will go mad without limits on patient numbers
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Previous research has found the average family doctor sees 41 patients each day.Such limits would mean soaring waiting times to see a GP.Currently, patients in England are waiting an average of two weeks to see a GP – a three-day increase since 2015.Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: “It’s bad enough trying to get a GP appointment at the moment and that’s if you can even get to see them in person. Other delegates suggested capping the number of patients to 25 a day.The motion – “that this meeting urges a sensible cap is agreed on the workload of a GP which can be expected to be safely delivered in a day for the safety of patients and sanity of GPs” – was overwhelmingly carried. “I’ve got a consultation with mine in three weeks’ time and that’s only on the telephone.”When will you ever get to see a GP if they only deal with 13 or 25 patients a day? It’s a ridiculous situation.”It will leave people waiting months and push more towards A&E. Some people may die before they are seen.”A limit of 13 patients a day could see this triple to six weeks, while a cap of 25 patients a day could extend waits to almost three weeks.“A sensible cap on the number of patients a GP can be expected to safely see in a day, must be introduced, taking also into account the fact that increasingly complex and intense consultations cannot be safely managed within ten minutes,” the medic said.“Did you know that in Sweden, GPs are expected to see only 13 patients in a day, with half-hourly appointments?”“The day has limited hours and only so much can be managed without compromising the safety,” he added. “Doing this together in a planned and coordinated way would enable us to look after our existing population more safely,” she said, arguing against a cap on appointment numbers.“We would apologise for being closed to registrations but state that it is because the Government has not listened to us when we have repeatedly told them that general practice is collapsing,” the GP said.“This may sound brutal but these are desperate times,” she said. “The Government won’t want a confrontation with GPs.” GPs “will go insane” unless strict limits are imposed on the number of patients they say each day, medics claim.The British Medical Association has called for a cap on the number of patients, with doctors hailing the system in Sweden where GPs see just 13 patients daily.Medics said they were too often expected to have up to 70 consultations a day – and said this was not safe for them or their patients.Dr Satash Narang, from Gwent and South Powys division, said GPs would “go insane, quit and become insolvent” if limits were not introduced.“For the sake of quality and safety of patient care and the sanity of its troops, we urge the BMA to take a fresh approach by defining and agreeing what is a safe workload,” he said. The union’s proposal did not define what that limit is.In January, a survey found GPs are dealing with up to 100 patients a day, with one in five saying they had a daily caseload of more than 50 patients.The poll of 900 GPs by Pulse magazine found GPs in the UK have an average of 41.5 patient contacts per day – including including face-to-face and telephone consultations, home visits and consultations by email. Seeing 50, 60, 70 patients a day, every day, year on year, is not safe. It’s not safe for the doctor and it’s not safe for the patientGP Dr Mary McCarthy General practice is in meltdown. We can’t go on as we areDr Jackie Applebee “General practice is in meltdown. We can’t go on as we are.” Backing the motion, GP Dr Mary McCarthy, said: “What I want people to recognise is that seeing 25 patients a day is a reasonable amount of work to do. Seeing 50, 60, 70 patients a day, every day, year on year, is not safe. It’s not safe for the doctor and it’s not safe for the patient.“I think this should be viewed like a speed limit, and I speak as someone with points on their licence. That there are occasions when you do break it, that there are obviously flu epidemics or a busy day in which you do see more. But that you do recognise that you’re working at an unsafe level. Other countries recognise this,” she said.Dr Jackie Applebee, a GP in east London, instead proposed national industrial action which would see GPs close their lists to new patients. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.