GP satisfaction high despite access issues

THE vast majority of patients in England are positive about their GP practice despite some difficulties over appointment availability.

More than 80 per cent described their overall experience of their practice as fairly or very good.

Trust and confidence in GPs and healthcare professionals is also extremely high at 95.6 per cent. A similar number of patients (93.5 per cent) felt involved in decisions about their care and treatment while almost 95 per cent felt that healthcare professional met their needs.

The results were revealed in the GP Patient Survey 2018, run by Ipsos MORI on behalf of NHS England, which received responses from more than 758,000 GP patients aged 16 and over.

The majority of patients (69 per cent) described their overall experience of making an appointment as good with most finding it easy to contact their practice via phone or online. Of those who wanted a same-day appointment, 66 per cent got one.

But the survey found not everyone could access a GP when they wanted to. Almost 40 per cent could not get an appointment at their desired time, while nearly a quarter (24 per cent) waited over a week for an appointment, a three-fold increase on 2017 (eight per cent).

Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the largely positive results were “testament to the great efforts and dedication to patient care being shown by GP practice teams across the country.” She acknowledged that patients are “still waiting too long for a GP appointment” and called for increased funding to boost the service.

Beccy Baird, senior fellow at the King’s Fund, added: “Coming at a time of year when demand is usually lower, these figures show that the NHS is struggling to provide the care that everyone needs. The government must look at what the NHS needs to do to change how care is delivered and to guarantee that the right workforce is available into the future.”