Headlines: June 26th, 2002

A report from the Cabinet Office’s Regulatory Impact Unit (RIU) says that up to 3.2 million GP appointments can be freed up by removing unnecessary and cumbersome red tape, so allowing patients quicker access to see their GP.Working with the Department of Health, the RIU consulted GPs in England and found the time for these extra appointments by removing repeat prescriptions, sick note certification, social housing reports, disability benefits and Motability and child assessments from GP’s workload.

The report offers suggestions about how some of these chores might be reduced or passed on to others:

– issuing a single prescription for long-term, stable conditions which can be dispensed in instalments by pharmacists

– minimising the need for GPs to provide non-clinical opinions or evidence for social housing applications

– limiting the GPs’ role in the disability benefit process to provision of clinical details

– extending prescribing rights of nurses.

Some doctors have questioned the size of the time gain, but the NHS Alliance says the report tackles issues at the top of every GP’s wish list of how to make the job less burdensome.

‘Making a Difference: Reducing Burdens on General Practitioners – second report”, follows an earlier report in March 2001 and can be found on the web at www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/regulation/PublicSector/reports.htm