Junta to cap GPs' daily appointments to give more time with patients

  • The regional minister for Health has said that primary care should be at the heart of the care system and promised more resources

The Andalusian regional minister for Health, Jesús Aguirre, said on Thursday that the public health service will take steps to improve access to GP visits and primary healthcare with "a real reform" of service levels. The aim will be to limit how many patients a GP sees to 30 a day. The move comes in reply to doctors' and patients' groups who say that medics don't have enough time to see to patients.

Aguirre said that he was "completely in agreement with the industrial action" that doctors in health centres in Andalucía had announced for May as he himself wanted, "more time per appointment, getting to ten minutes [with each patient]", although he admitted that the new action plan is only forecasting seven minutes.

The regional minister went on to say that the new plan meets many of healthcare staff's other demands and hoped it was enough to halt their planned action in May. He asked for more time for the new Junta de Andalucía government to take action.

The new primary-healthcare action plan, currently being presented to trade unions, will focus on three main areas; cutting red tape, improving diary management, and triage (categorising patients before they are seen).

Aguirre criticised central government for rushing the regions into preparing an action plan, but recognised that "it could serve as a starting point" for the "debate" about putting the primary care area of the health service at the centre of the operation.

As part of the diary measures, GP appointments will be limited to 30 a day, up to half the current amount. Primary care would also be given a higher share of total healthcare budgets and linked more closely to social services, so more people could be taken care of at home.