06/10/2018 18:46 BST

Group GP Appointments To Be Rolled Out After 'Positive Feedback'

Patients can still book one-to-one appointments if they prefer.

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Shared appointments among up to 15 patients will be rolled out in GP surgeries after family doctors said they received “very positive” feedback.

Some patients taking part in group appointments said they benefited from receiving support from other patients, the head of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said.

Trials among patients with the same condition have taken place at surgeries in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Berkshire and Sheffield, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Doctors say they find the session effective in dealing with conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and obesity as they can dispense the information to the group instead of individually.

The sessions, lasting two hours, are usually led by healthcare assistants or admin staff, while doctors also attend for part of the appointment, to discuss potential treatment.

It could be reassuring to patients to see others share their concerns and challengesRachel Power, Patients Association

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 and practices.

She added that there is “no pressure” on patients to take part if they would rather have a one-to-one consultation.

It is expected the scheme, to be rolled out later this year, will save money and time, with GPs not having to give out the same advice to patients with similar conditions.

The Patients Association, a charity which supports the interests of patients, said shared consultations could help some people by providing a forum for discussion.

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.”