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22.05.18

GPs rely on ‘opportunistic’ assessment for some conditions

The lack of an evidence-based screening programme for atrial fibrillation means that patients rely on GPs to “opportunistically check” a patient’s pulse, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has warned.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said that taking a pulse is a simple, safe way of finding out about a patient’s health and can be useful in forming a diagnosis.

However, this is often only performed opportunistically when a patient attends for other reasons because of the lack of screening programme for asymptomatic atrial fibrillation.

Stokes-Lampard said: “But this is often not possible given all the other things GPs are expected to do during a consultation, and all the questions we need to ask a patient - particularly during the standard 10-minute consultation, that is increasingly unfit for purpose.”

The chair argued that protocols should be updated based on the latest evidence to ensure that all screening programmes are up to date, robust and appropriate so that GPs are able to prioritise all of the tasks that they are expected to do during a consultation.

“In the wider context, we need more time with our patients, particularly those with complex needs, but offering longer appointments means offering fewer appointments and with the resource and workforce pressure currently facing general practice, patients are already waiting too long for a GP appointment,” she concluded.

Top image: mheim3011 iStock

 

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