Britain’s GPs are dangerously tired and overworked, according to the head of the profession. Whilst there are some very real issues with GPs' workloads, there are also a range of innovations that may help, and reducing the paperwork burden is a key theme. Below, we have pulled together some key statistics around GP workload and the activities taking up GPs’ time, and highlighted a few examples of how technology is making a difference.
Many people would be surprised to learn that there are now more GPs in the UK than ever before. However, the number of GPs doesn’t appear to be solving the twin problems of increasing demand and growing workloads.
The findings from ‘A very general practice: How much time do GPs spend on issues other than health?' conducted by Citizens’ Advice, highlighted that GPs spend 19% of their consultation time dealing with social issues. GPs reported some staggering figures, such as 92% of patients raising personal relationship issues, 77% of patients raising housing issues and 77% of patients raising work issues within just a month duration. With such demand on the care they provide, GPs regularly work beyond their designated hours. At some practices the average working day can see up to 62 patient visits for just one GP, which means that the working day often reaches 13-14 hours.
However, it’s not just consultation time that has an effect on GPs’ workloads. In a report by the Primary Care Workforce Commission, it was found that GPs spent 11% of their time keeping up with administrative tasks. To put this in perspective, if half of this work was done by dedicated admin staff, this time would be the equivalent to 1,400 more full-time GPs. With unmanageable workloads, 93% of GPs suggested that this has negatively affected the quality of the care they provided to their patients.
Whilst it’s clear that GPs have their patients’ wellbeing at heart, the demands of their role means that there is less time than required to meet their desired standards of patient care.
How can technology be used to address the issues?