GP patients are set to become the first in the country to be offered 15-minute appointments in a bid to keep doctors.

The move is part of a three-pronged approached to trial ways to help retain GPs within the NHS.

Patients in Castle Point and the Dengie area will be some of the first in the country to be offered the lengthened consultations.

The two consultation areas have been chosen by Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and will join seven other NHS sites across the country.

Each area is being funded as an ‘intensive support site’.

The plan is to increase personal support for GPs and the practices to achieve the greatest possible impact on the engagement and retention of local GPs.

The 15-minute consultation trial follows calls from doctors for GP appointments to be lengthened and consultations to be limited to a target of 25-a-day to relieve pressure on GPs.

Currently it is believed GP consultations in Britain are among the shortest in Europe with an average of just over nine minutes.

It is less than half the time of the average consultation time of Sweden, which has the longest in world with more than 22 minutes.

Tricia D’Orsi, from Mid and South Essex STP, told Essex County Council’s health scrutiny panel the trial area will be seeing how best to retain GPs set to retire and how to encourage new GPs to stay with extended roles.

She added: “The third arm is looking to move to a 15-minute consultation.

“It is felt there are a number of patients who are repeatedly trying to get appointments in their surgery.

“It is felt if there was a longer consultation time, many issues could be dealt with effectively in that 15-minute consultation.

“We are being serially interviewed over the next few months so we capture all the learning for the pilot site because the hope is the model we are implementing will be rolled out nationally, with a tool kit that can be supplied to primary care practices to advise them how they can safely transition to a new model.”