Recent trends in general practice towards working in multi-disciplinary teams from purpose-built premises have emphasised the need to study the ways in which doctors and other staff spend their working time.
This paper describes a well-established work-study technique (activity sampling), which has been adapted to enable doctors to assess how they use their time. The method needs no observer and is cheap to operate. Five general practitioners undertook to record their surgeries for two separate weeks using the bleep method of activity sampling. The results they obtained show that the technique is both practicable in normal working conditions and is capable of providing information highly relevant to the management of general practice.