'Positive Feedback' for Shared GP Appointments

Nicky Broyd

October 08, 2018

Shared GP appointments have been trialled and the "feedback has been very positive" according to Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

The topic was discussed at the RCGP Annual Primary Care Conference in Glasgow last week.

It's thought that group consultations, an idea which comes from the US, are an easy-to-introduce way of meeting escalating demand and make more efficient use of clinician's time. For patients they are thought to provide the same, or better, healthcare results.

Group Consultations

In primary care confidential group consultations are usually referred to as 'shared medical appointments (SMA)'.  It's estimated there are around 200 GP surgeries using them already.

In hospitals group consultations are usually called 'group clinics/consults'.
 

Which Conditions?

One of the doctors speaking at the Glasgow conference was Dr Rob Lawson, who is founder of the UK Shared Medical Appointment Contact Group.

On the RCGP website he gives examples of SMAs being used for:

Time Saving?

An SMA is typically about 90 minutes long with around 12 to 20 patients with similar conditions and a team of healthcare professionals. 

For clinicians the aim is to make the best use of their time by helping them avoid repeating the same advice and information again and again in individual appointments, to reduce waiting lists, provide an opportunity to better know their patients, and to work with a multi-disciplinary team with the opportunity to coordinate multi-disciplinary care plans.

The aim for patients is to improve knowledge of their illness so they can become better at managing their own disease, to offer peer support, and through shared experiences, improve their health and wellbeing. 

Prof Stokes-Lampard, said in a statement: "We are already aware of practices that are offering 'shared' appointments for patients with similar conditions and the feedback has been very positive.

"Some patients have even said they have benefited from the support they receive from their fellow patients, in addition to the care they receive from their GP.

"However, this approach will not work for everyone and GPs will know what best suits their patients and practices - and there is no pressure on patients to participate if they would prefer to continue seeing their GP in a one-to-one consultation."
 

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