I have no doubt that the workload of family doctors has increased dramatically since the introduction of the GP Contract in 2004.
The Quality Framework and more Enhanced Services as well as the more recent Care Quality Commission inspections have meant that more and more time is spent on ‘administration’ rather than ‘face to face’ consultations.
Practices are trying all sorts of innovations to deal with patient demand.
Telephone Consultations are more and more popular as over 90% of practices offer them.
Over 40% of practices employ Nurse Practitioners who can also prescribe.
More than 80% of practices offer Extended Hours services on selected weekdays before 8.00am and after 6.30pm and also at weekends but this is not ‘extra’ time seeing patients.
The problem for general practice is recruitment as now only 10% of GPs work 5 days per week.
Around 50% work four days per week and the remainder work part time.
The change in work time commitment means that more GPs are required to fill the gaps unless the Government insist that doctors who originally contracted to work full time continue to do so.
This is not an easy problem to resolve and it is unlikely that GPs and Practices will be able to work 7 days a week unless those GPs currently working less that 4 days per week are required to work at least 4 days per week. Since 2004 some 26% have reduced their sessional commitment. Only 13% have increased their time commitment. Some practices have increased to 10 sessions per week because of the recruitment crisis.
These statistics have been collected in a survey carried out by gpsurgerymanager.co.uk with the help of www.practiceindex.co.uk and a FULL REPORT of the findings will be published by the end of June 2015.