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UK GPs pilot standing appointments to 'set an example' and possibly cut consultation times

General Practitioners (GPs) in the UK are to pilot standing-up appointments to “set an example” to patients about the perils of a sedentary lifestyle and possibly shorten consultation times, reports The Daily Telegraph. Backed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the study will also investigate whether doing so will shorten the length of consultations.

Starting in the Midlands, the pilot scheme will see family doctors equipped with £2,000 desks that can switch from sitting to standing formats at the push of a button. A team from Loughborough University will then compare productivity data from the two different modes.

Despite supporting the study, the RCGP has warned that standing appointments may put some people off. The researchers say in the report that it will only apply to adults and may not be appropriate for the frail, elderly, or when the patient is about to receive bad news. However, they also believe the measure will benefit the health of GPs themselves, who by and large spend their days sitting down. Researchers will ask around 500 GPs across the UK their views around introducing standing consultations in the new year.

Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGPs chair, said: "Standing consultations could be an effective way of having productive and beneficial conversations with some of our patients, particularly around 'lifestyle' issues and highlighting the need for us all to reduce our sitting time and move more. However, we need to be mindful that the GP-patient consultation relies on high quality, face to face, communication and in some cases, this will not be achieved if the GP is standing while their patient is sitting down.”

The report says despite the potential benefits of the new scheme, Stokes-Lampard warned: “There might be cases where it is appropriate for the GP and patient to carry out the consultation while they are both standing up, but for many of our patients who have complex needs or mobility problems, this will not be an option, and indeed some GPs will not be physically able to participate in this way.”

The Loughborough team said the intention of the research is not to shorten consultation times in general, but that standing up may show that shorter slots are appropriate in some circumstances.

Amanda Daley, professor of behavioural medicine, said: "If you come in for a repeat prescription there's no reason to sit, sitting just takes up more time, so it might be that for certain types of consultation it makes things quicker, and for others it's just not appropriate.

[link url=""]The Daily Telegraph report[/link]

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