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A very general practice: how much time do GPs spend on issues other than health

Author(s)

CAPER Kathleen, PLUNKETT James

Publisher(s):

Citizens Advice

Publication year:

2015

Drawing on the results of interviews with 824 general practitioners (GPs) in England carried out in 2015, this briefing looks at the amount of time and money GPs spend dealing with non-health issues. GPs responding to the survey report spending almost a fifth of their time on social issues that are not principally about health, including relationship problems, housing, unemployment and social isolation. This time has an implied cost to the health service of almost £400 million a year. Although approximately half the GPs surveyed said that time spent on non-health issues helped them understand their local community, this can leave less time for other patients' health care needs. In addition, many issues raised with GPs, require specialist knowledge that many GPs do not have. Whist the report acknowledges that discussion of non-health issues can be helpful in developing GP-patient relationships, it concludes that finding other ways to meet some of the non-health demand facing GPs would free up time and money to be reinvested in patient care. Possible suggestions put forward include the co-locating of non-health services and advice services in GP surgeries and ensuring GPs know how to best signpost patients to other local services in the community. (Edited publisher abstract)


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