GP surgeries that offer shared appointments for groups of patients with similar conditions have had “very positive” feedback, family doctors say.
Some patients said they have benefited from group appointments after receiving support from other participants, the head of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said.
Doctors are said to find the sessions effective at dealing with a variety of health issues like diabetes, arthritis and obesity as they do not have to repeat the same advice individually.
Group appointments with up to 15 people with the same condition have been trialled at GP surgeries in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Berkshire, the Daily Telegraph reports.
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, in addition to the care they receive from their GP.
“However, this approach will not work for everyone and GPs will know what best suits their patients and practices – and there is no pressure on patients to participate if they would prefer to continue seeing their GP in a one-to-one consultation.”
The Patients Association said group consultations could be helpful to some people by providing an opportunity to have discussions about their conditions.
“It could also be reassuring to patients to see others share their concerns and challenges, and can provide the benefit of peer support,” its chief executive, Rachel Power, said.
“But patients must be given the choice as to whether to participate, or to continue with more traditional GP services.”