Intended for healthcare professionals


Has increased the workload for primary care teams

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 15 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1004
  1. Eleri M Roderick,
  2. Jim Cox
  1. General practitioner General practitioner Caldbeck Surgery, Caldbeck, Wigton, Cumbria CA7 8DS

    EDITOR,—In his editorial on breast screening Paul A Creighton highlights the tendency of the government to raise patients' expectations but to expect those delivering care to absorb any extra work without complaint or extra resources.1 The Cumbria Practice Research Group sought to document the extra workload for primary care teams that resulted from the national breast screening programme in the first few months after its introduction. Practice receptionists, nurses, and general practitioners completed time sheets.

    The data collected showed that up to five hours of work in total was generated per 1000 patients on a general practitioner's list. Most of the time was spent on administrative tasks such as checking the prior notification list and filing results, but general practitioners reported extra consultations for counselling patients and inquiries related to different aspects of the screening process. These figures were almost certainly underestimates as the long period of the survey resulted in staff forgetting to record data.

    We believe that if we are to provide new services to our patients the extra work entailed must be taken into account and costed appropriately. In this particular instance, as Creighton suggests, extra reimbursement for appropriately trained administrative staff and practice nurses should be made available.


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