The GP practice where patients can share appointments

Posted: January 13th 2020

The GP practice where patients can share appointments

This month a really interesting article about how we can share the pain of key things we might talk to a GP about. I think this is a really interesting approach, which has lots of value added and “group therapy” knitted into it. It’s also a cracking use of time in a hard-pressed service area. This story tells us.

Faced with a wait for a GP appointment, would you choose a group session with the doctor instead? It is an idea some surgeries are investigating.

Demand for appointments increasingly outweighs availability. In recent years, the number of GP appointments has risen by 13%, but GP numbers are up by less than 5%, putting huge pressure on surgeries.

In addition, many of us are living longer and with multiple long-term conditions, which can make consultations extremely complex. 

The traditional one-to-one 10-minute appointment is arguably no longer fit for purpose.

With no promise of increased funding, or a substantially increased GP workforce, primary care teams have to find innovative new ways of delivering routine care in general practice that simultaneously save time and improve quality. 

One such practice is Parchmore Medical Centre in Thornton Heath, Surrey. 

Anthony is a patient there. He says: "I've passed that magical age of 50 and got a call from the GP. I've got some weight issues and some blood pressure issues, so it's time to do something."

He had come in for an appointment - but one with a difference. Instead of the usual 10 minutes, he was going to have an hour-and-a-half with his GP. 

But he would not be seeing the doctor alone; he would be sharing his appointment with six other patients.

They all have weight issues and/or pre-diabetes. There were seven present at this particular consultation, but as many as 15 can attend.