Group consultations at GP surgeries will be rolled out after doctor offering shared appointments said they had received “very positive feedback”.
Appointments with up to 15 people with the same condition have been trialled at dozens of GP surgeries in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Berkshire.
The two-hour sessions are said to be effective at dealing with a variety of health issues such as diabetes, arthritis and obesity.
The group appointments are typically led by admin staff or healthcare assistants, with doctors expected to attend for around an hour to discuss tests and treatments.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the RCGP, said: “We are already aware of practices that are offering ‘shared’ appointments for patients with similar conditions and the feedback has been very positive.
“Some patients have even said they have benefited from the support they receive from their fellow patients, in addition to the care they receive from their GP.”
However Prof Stokes-Lampard said that this approach “will not work for everyone,” and GPs will know what best suits their patients and practices.
She insisted there was “no pressure on patients to participate if they would prefer to continue seeing their GP in a one-to-one consultation”.
On Friday, the conference of the Royal College of GPs was told the group sessions will be rolled out nationally later this year as part of a new 10-year plan for the NHS.
The NHS scheme is also expected to save money and spare GPs from giving out the same advice to patients with similar ailments.
Some patients said they have benefited from the appointments after receiving support from the other participants, the head of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said.
Other benefits include patients having longer consultations.
The Patients Association’s chief executive Rachel Power said: “It could also be reassuring to patients to see others share their concerns and challenges, and can provide the benefit of peer support.”
“But patients must be given the choice as to whether to participate, or to continue with more traditional GP services.”
Patients will have to sign confidentiality waivers to ensure they do not discuss details of other people’s health after the appointments.
From – SkyNews