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Patients get more time with GP

GPs in England spend almost 40% longer on each patient consultation than they did in 1992/93, research shows. Data released by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care show the average consultation time in 2006/07 was 11.7 minutes, up from 8.4 minutes.

The number of consultations carried out by GP practices has risen – but the number of home visits has dropped. Doctors are working roughly the same surgery hours as they did when the last survey was carried out in 1992/93. However, most are not working outside “normal” hours as they once did. In 1992/93 the average GP worked around seven hours a week outside surgery hours.

A new contract was introduced for GPs in 2004. The deal allowed them to opt out of evening and weekend work, in return for around a £6,000 a year drop in pay. But performance-related components to the contract have led to their pay rising by over a fifth in the first year of the contract, with average GP pay now above the £100,000 barrier.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s GPs committee, said it was difficult to draw meaningful comparisons as there had been significant changes to the GP contract since 1992/93.

But he said: “What has changed is the way we work. Intensity has rocketed.