Overworked GPs Say They Are Seeing More Patients Than Is Safe Resulting In Mistakes

8 May 2019, 07:28

On average each GP is dealing with 11 patients a day more than the safe number.
On average each GP is dealing with 11 patients a day more than the safe number. Picture: PA

A shocking report has revealed some GPs are seeing twice as many patients a day as is considered the safe limit, with some reporting they are openly making mistakes.

One GP complained his workload creates patient safety risks. With doctors risking prescribing drugs to the wrong patient or putting the wrong labels on blood tests.

GPs across the country are seeing more patients thank they think is safe, with some so overworked they are openly making mistakes, according to new research.

A study for the industry magazine Pulse found on average each doctor dealt with 41 patients a day despite claiming 30 should be the limit.

One in 10 GPs reported they are dealing with a staggering 60 patients a day, double the safe limit.

Dr James Howarth, a GP in Spilsby, Lincolnshire, said: "I was duty doctor on the day of Pulse's survey, and I had 124 patient contacts.

"The median is about 60 to 70 - beyond a safe level."

He said as well as face to face appointments with patients there was a  "workload dump" from secondary hospital care, such as "decoding illegible handwritten prescription requests", consultants sending patients back for referrals to their colleagues, chasing referrals for patients, chasing missing information and dealing with inadequate discharge letters.

He added: "This workload creates patient safety risks. There are risks around having multiple patient notes open because we're helping a nurse out with hers, or we're 30 minutes late so we see the next patient while finishing the notes of the last.

"We might forget consultant details, plans and actions, or prescribe for the wrong person, use the wrong labels on blood tests, and so on."

He said in the previous week he sent a blood test using the wrong patient details due to being extremely busy, luckily the doctor managed to spot the error.

"I have raised safety concerns with governing bodies before. I was basically told to shut up or my practice would be run over with a fine-toothed comb."

Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England's national medical director for primary care, said: "We already know that general practice is under pressure which is why investment in local doctors and community services is increasing by £4.5 billion, helping fund an army of 20,000 more staff to support GP practices as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

"But we are also aware that almost nine out of 10 salaried GPs currently work part-time."