Headlines: November 16th, 2001

Doctors are being penalised for offering patients the time they need, according to a survey for BMA News, the publication of the British Medical Association.More than 200 doctors responded to a survey about consultation times, prompted by growing concerns that the pace of work expected of them is putting quality and safety at risk.

Nine out of ten who responded said patient care was being adversely affected by short consultation times. Two-thirds of doctors admitted making mistakes because of time pressures.

One GP said she was sacked by her practice when she insisted on as little as five minutes with patients. A consultant who offered new patients 30-minute appointments was asked by his managers to cut his consultation times or run an extra clinic so his hospital could meet government waiting list targets

Trust managers have to balance the needs of the patient against targets set by the Government, but the BMA says that managers have become obsessed with quantity not quality.