Now is the right time for group consultations. With clinicians feeling burnt out and patient demand ever increasing, we need to work differently. Evaluation of group clinics in England have found that they deliver significant clinician time efficiencies – between 22-75% (in other words clinicians see up to three times more people in the same hour of clinic time). There is also growing evidence that group consultations reduce ‘do not attender’ (DNA) rates and help systematise quality. Patient and clinician experience of group consultations is very positive.
We have spoken to thousands of people about their experiences of NHS care and without fail, they told us they wanted the same things and were not getting them from their one to one consultations:
- Longer appointments and more time to discuss what matters to them – not the clinician’s agenda
- Continuity and a closer relationship with their clinician
- To meet people in the same boat who understand and inspire hope
- The reassurance of systematic, proactive follow up and review
- Strategies to take control and build confidence to manage their health issues on their own.
Nine years ago, we heard about group consultations and thought they would deliver what people wanted from their consultations.
Patient Participation Groups in Slough were the first to ask their GPs to provide group consultations as part of routine primary care, and others have followed suit.
Then, as we started to evaluate clinicians’ experiences, we realised that group consultations are a huge win-win for the NHS workforce.
Clinicians told us that compared to one to one care, group consultations:
- Are more energising and fulfilling and support them to use their knowledge and expertise fully
- Help them get to know patients better and to the bottom of the story more often
- Feel less rushed. Clinicians do not repeat themselves so often and have more time to reflect and improve
- Provide enough time to focus on and discuss what matters to the person and to explain their condition and treatment
- Make it easier to help people take control of their health. Clinicians report more often seeing changes in peoples’ beliefs and behaviours in consultations
- Make it easier to connect peers and support peer learning
- Feel less like tick box exercises
- Build team spirit and help clinicians and the wider team to work better together.
We also found they accelerate clinicians’ and health care assistants’ skills and leadership qualities.
We have been on a mission to spread group consultations for the last five years.
We have reviewed the research, worked with leading edge practitioners, and built a comprehensive practice development and learning support programme that enables teams and organisations to embed group consultations into routine clinical practice at scale.
Group consultations are now one of 10 high impact actions in the GP Forward View.
We are working across the country to embed them with primary care and specialist teams from pregnancy and early years through to later life.