Testing times: Why GPs in the UK order three times as many tests as they used to

Extra testing has also increased GP workload over the past 15 years, researchers estimate

GPs now order triple the number of diagnostic tests than they did 15 years ago, a UK study shows.

Researchers estimate the extra testing would also have added substantially to GPs’ workloads, calculating they now spend up to two hours a day reviewing test results.

GPs ordered, on average, five tests for each patient in 2016, compared with 1.5 in 2000, the BMJ study shows.

Assuming it takes 2-3 minutes to review a test, the authors estimate that the average GP spent 1.5-2 hours reviewing test results each workday in 2016.

This is around three times as long as estimated in 2000 — 25-35 minutes.

Researchers have looked at electronic health records from patients registered at UK general practices included in the Clinical Practice Research Data Link, analysing data on more than 260 million tests ordered for around 11 million patients.

As well as total test use, they have