Standard consultation – What to expect

GPs and nurses are used to being busy and used to multi-tasking but we would ask patients to bear in mind what is realistic to fit in to a standard 15 minute consultation. Our reception staff ask for some indication as to the nature of the visit. Of course, it is no problem if someone would prefer not to say. The reason for this is to schedule with the correct member of staff, at a suitable time of day, to advise if an extended consultation may be needed and to make arrangements for prescriptions in advance of the visit if needed (e.g., for coil or Implanon insertions). If it sounds as if someone may need bloods/samples sent to the lab, they do not want to waste your time by booking an appointment when this won’t be possible!

Standard consultations allow time to safely discuss one or possibly two issues, perform an examination, make a provisional/final diagnosis , form a management plan and arrange any onward referrals, prescriptions or sick certificates. Issues that can be dealt with in standard consultations include acute illnesses such as tonsillitis, urinary tract infections , review of headaches, contraception reviews, antenatal visits, change in bowel habit, change in skin, pain in a joint etc. If there are a number of issues to be discussed, we ask that people book an extended consultation which is 30 minutes duration and gives more time to deal with issues safely.

We appreciate that patients may try to squeeze as much into a consultation as possible. This can put huge pressure on clinical staff. It can be a disservice to the patient as it may not be possible to do as thorough an assessment with limited time. If the doctor or nurse feels it is not safe to try to deal with all issues, they may request that the patient returns for a follow-up visit at a later date. We also have to bear in mind that the patient booked for the next consultation slot is keen to be seen on time.

Some visits that may require extended consultations include:

  • Patients who wish to discuss a number of issues
  • Patients who wish to get a second opinion on a chronic issue
  • Menopause/perimenopause reviews (as these may involve discussion of a number of symptoms which may be hormone related (or not!), review of heart/gynae/bone health, referral for DEXA scan as appropriate, initiating treatment as appropriate)