Patients rate GP safety "generally high"

PATIENT perceptions of safety in general practice are high according to a study of 45 practices across England.

The study published recently in the British Journal of General Practice found that 86 per cent of patients rated practice safety overall as “generally high”.

The researchers set out to assess patient perceptions of safety as previous descriptions of problems or harm have relied mainly on information from health professionals.

Questionnaires answered by 1,244 patients from practices across five regions of England were analysed and 45 per cent reported at least one safety problem in the last 12 months. Most issues related to appointments (33 per cent), diagnosis (17 per cent), patient provider communication (15 per cent) and coordination between providers (14 per cent). Twenty-three per cent of the responders reported some degree of harm in the previous 12 months.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, commented on the study: "It is human nature to report a bad experience of a service rather than a good one, so the fact that most patients who responded to this survey had a positive perception of safety in their GP practice is really encouraging.

"Providing high quality patient care and keeping our patients safe are the driving forces behind general practice, and a priority for all family doctors. This dedication has led to GPs consistently being ranked amongst the most trusted healthcare professionals in the UK – with 92 per cent of patients reporting trust and confidence in the last GP they saw according to the latest independent GP Patient Survey."