Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2015: Professional Considerations

British GPs keep going for longer: is the 12 second interruption history?

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 14 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6136
  1. Avril Danczak, general practitioner, primary care medical educator1
  1. 1Health Education England North West; Central and South Manchester Specialty Training Programme for General Practice; Education and Research Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, Southmoor Road, Manchester M23 9LT
  1. Correspondence to: A Danczak avril.danczak{at}

It is often quoted that doctors interrupt their patients after as little as 12 seconds—but this audit of consultations by British GPs shows otherwise

In 2014 Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, remarked at the Royal College of General Practitioners’ annual conference that doctors interrupt patients at the start of consultations, sometimes within 12 seconds.1 2 As a trainer, medical educator, and previous examiner for the video consultations component of the MRCGP qualification I have watched many routine consultations, and I don’t recognise the phenomenon of the “12 second interruption.”

Delving further, I found that the 12 second interruption related to physicians in the United States, whereas the average time to interruption in Slovenia and Croatia was 28 seconds.3 In Israel the average was 26 seconds, although the median …

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