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Practice nurse and GP appointments not long enough, says BMA

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The length of appointments to see practice nurses and GPs should be extended in order to meet the needs of patients with increasingly complex health problems, according to the British Medical Association.

As part of its general election “manifesto”, the BMA said it wanted to see the NHS restored to a “publicly provided service”

Calling for appointment lengths to be extended to 15 or 20 minutes, BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said although an extension to appointment times would require greater investment in surgeries and staff, the complexity of modern-day medical issues meant that the current 10-minute slot was not long enough.

Dr Meldrum cited factors such as obesity, mental health and social problems and an increasingly ageing population as reasons why the current time-frame for doctors to make accurate diagnoses was inadequate.

He said: “With people living longer, and being more likely to suffer from comorbidities, the sort of work that GPs and practice nurses are doing is increasingly complex, and the standard 10 minute appointment is not sufficient.

“If you are going to be increasing the length of consultations by 50% then you are going to increase the length of doctors’ consultation time by 50%.

“In that case you are talking about a significant increase in the number of doctors.

“We accept that there will be a cost there, but it’s an aspiration, an important aspiration. It’s something that we want to be moving towards.”

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