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Extent of doctors increasing workloads revealed

Thursday 28th April 2016
Demand for temporary doctors may rise as the extent of increasing workloads is revealed. Image: shironosov via iStock
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    The extent of UK GPs' ever-increasing workloads has been revealed, meaning there could be an increase in opportunities for temporary doctors to help tackle this problem in the coming months.

    A new report from the Universities of Oxford and Bristol shows that the size of the workload of the country's doctors and nurses has risen by 16 per cent in the past seven years, as medical professionals struggle to cope with an increasing number of patients.

    Overall, face-to-face, telephone and home visit consultations rose by 13.67 per cent between 2007 and 2014, meaning the average number of times each patient required the services of their local GP grew from 3.35 to 3.8. Face-to-face doctor-patient meetings saw the biggest climb, growing by 6.38 per cent. Meanwhile, nurse appointments per person increased from 1.32 to 1.36 over the seven-year study period.

    Although GPs are being encouraged to conduct a greater number of telephone consultations with patients to ease pressure on their workload, they were found to save little time in reality, taking 60 per cent of the time that a traditional face-to-face appointment does.

    It was also found that the ratio of doctors to patients decreased from 2007 to 2014, falling from 60.9 for every 100,000 patients to 60.6 per 100,000.

    However, the data showed that the majority of appointments were required by patients aged under four-years-old and those aged 85 and over.

    Lead author of the report Dr Richard Hobbs commented: "For many years, doctors and nurses have reported increasing workloads, but, for the first time, we are able to provide objective data that this is indeed the case.

    "The demands on general practice have increased substantially over the past seven years. Recruitment of new GPs and nurses remains low while the population in England steadily increases. As currently delivered, the system seems to be approaching saturation point."

    With this in mind, doctors and nurses willing to work on a temporary contract basis could see demand for their services increase to help ease the pressure on medical staff.

    Written by James Puckle

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