More than one in three GPs acknowledge they’ve neglected to properly diagnose patients because short appointment times have meant symptoms have been missed.
Misdiagnoses meant sick patients are forced to return for repeat appointments and further medical treatment as 10-minute consultation windows didn’t give enough time for doctors to assess them correctly, and a monstrous 94 per cent of NHS doctors said short appointment times put patients in danger, with GPs reporting that they thought the minimum “safe” timeframe would be 16 to 20 minutes.
Four in five stated they don’t always have time to properly diagnose patients, with 55 per cent worrying they have missed severe health problems and 37 per cent thinking they have prescribed the wrong course of treatment.
The survey of 200 GPs, by law firm Slater and Gordon, follows a new report from the Royal College of GPs which called the standard 10-minute appointment “unfit for purpose”. The average consultation is 9.2 minutes in the United Kingdom, but the college said increasing it would enable doctors more time to help people with complex health needs.
It also believes more extended and shorter appointments should be available to cater to people’s various conditions, and half of the GPs in the latest survey said they’re expected to keep appointment times to less than 10 minutes, while others were compelled to reduce this further depending on patient demand for attention.
We should be able to trust our family doctor to listen to our concerns and to recognise any problems, without them worrying about hurrying us through to meet hazardous deadlines, which is of course not the most suitable practice, and these doctors need to have enough time to do their jobs correctly and robustly for the health of the UK.
Individual doctors decide on the length of appointments and if a patient requires a longer consultation, they should be given it, and the recent GP Patient Survey revealed that more than nine in 10 patients trusted their GP, and more than eight in 10 people reported their experience at their GP practise as good or better.
Total health spending in England was around £129 billion in 2018/19 and is supposed to climb to approximately £134 billion by 2019/20, taking inflation into account, and it makes you question where all that money goes to because when most people go into consult with their doctor, there are long waiting lists, then longer waiting lists, and if you need to see a specialist, unless you can afford to go private, then you’re going to wait a pretty long time.
And now the expansion of the dubious ‘GP by Skype’ service is to be extended to every patient by 2021, and the GP at hand app is now well established in London and set to be rolled out, but there are concerns it will take money away from conventional practices.
And plans to replace traditional GP appointments with virtual online doctors could fatally undermine care for elderly patients, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised to roll out the controversial scheme across the NHS, and there are concerns it could cream off young patients and increase the digital divide in healthcare.
The GP at Hand smartphone app uses an algorithm to assess symptoms through a ‘chatbot’ and gives ten-minute video appointments with a doctor. It’s now accessible to millions of patients in London and Birmingham, and Matt Hancock is amongst the 55,000 people to have deregistered from their GP to use the service.
But most of those who have signed up are young and rich and only 0.1 per cent suffers from chronic conditions, and this could affect traditional GP practices because they get a set amount of money for each patient on their books, suggesting they will lose money when patients leave to join the online scheme.
And since it’s essentially the young and fit who sign up, operations are left with a greater proportion of costly patients, such as the elderly, weak and chronically sick, and the app risks creaming off young patients and does not address the broader requirements of the population.
And some will worry that the new service will fatally threaten traditional general practice, leaving GPs with sick and complex patients to look after as fit young patients move, and it’s basically taking money away from practices.
It comes as Britain faces a spiralling GP crisis, as a recorded 138 surgeries shut down last year and millions struggled to secure appointments with a doctor, but Mr Hancock thinks technology could offer a solution, and he said that GP at Hand, works brilliantly for so many patients and goes with the grain of how people access modern services.
But GP leaders are concerned virtual consultations could miss less obvious symptoms that doctors pick up through their gut instincts, and they’re concerned the app will threaten the doctor-patient relationship and antagonise those without smartphones.
The Hand app risks destabilising traditional NHS general practice services and it’s really not suitable for those with complicated health needs and patients who value continuity of care, and there hasn’t been a completely independent evaluation of how safe the service is for patients.
And those who don’t have access to a suitable smartphone are not able to start using the new models on offer, therefore extending the digital divide in healthcare, but an NHS spokesman said that GP funding arrangements had been changed to account for new digital services.
An NHS spokesman said GP funding arrangements had been changed to account for new digital services, and added: ‘The NHS is committed to supporting GPs to increase the use of digital technology, with every patient in England having access to online and video consultation by 2021.’
Babylon, the firm behind the app, said the NHS had to decide whether to protect ‘old-school GP practices or to do the right thing by patients and taxpayers’.
Patients get a ten-minute appointment with their doctor, but during that appointment sometimes symptoms are missed, and the Royal College of GPs wants a more extended 15-minute appointment, and one in three NHS GPs admitted that appointment times are restricted to ten minutes that has led them to miss symptoms.
Incorrect diagnoses mean patients have to return for extra appointments and may become more severely unwell, indicating greater use of NHS time than a longer consultation in the first place, and the 200 doctors that were surveyed about their work pressure, 94 per cent said that appointments should be between 16 and 20 minutes at least.
Four in five said they don’t always have the opportunity to properly diagnose patients, with 55 per cent worrying that they’ve missed serious health problems, and usually don’t have enough time to spend with one patient to make a proper diagnosis, and one doctor said that
‘Recently it took three weeks and repeat appointments to get to the bottom of a patient’s medical condition and offer the correct solution’.
And if these doctors had more time in the first place it would enable them to get to the root of their patient’s complaint right away, and doctors are treated like expendable robots under relenting demand.
Most GPs want to do their very best for their patients, but the system will not let them, and because of this doctors usually burn out, experience significant mental health problems, or simply leave the job.
People put faith in their family doctors to listen to their concerns and to recognise any problems, without having to fret about them racing us through to reach hazardous deadlines which are not the best practice.
They need to have enough time to do their jobs correctly and robustly for the well-being of the United Kingdom, but then it’s characteristic of this government to bring in this kind of system because they don’t care for the sick and vulnerable, and we should all be concerned about this if we value our NHS.
These online companies only dispense with the most salubrious of patients, leaving NHS practices to deal with the sicker amongst us.
The problem is that each gets the equivalent volume of per capita funding. This means that the online companies are rolling in profits as they’re dealing with the healthiest and most affordable patients whilst conventional surgeries have a funding shortfall as they’re dealing with the sickest, and most costly patients.
And now people are going to pay to Skype a random locum doctor at home who can’t examine you whilst bankrupting GP surgeries, so it’s no surprise they’re all closing down, and those who don’t have Skype or don’t wish to use it for such a personal or private matter won’t stand a chance of ever seeing a doctor in person because all their time will be taken up with telephone and Skype consultations.
And what happens when you’re in the midst of a Skype consultation and your connection drops or get cut off? Will that person have to go through all the formalities of getting another appointment?