GP satisfaction dips slightly but remains high, NHS patient survey reveals

CREDIT: This story was first seen on iNews

More than 8 in 10 people are satisfied with their GP, a survey of 800,000 patients in England reveals, a slight dip on last year, iNews reports.

Some 85% of patients rated their experience as good while 92% also had confidence and trust in the last GP they saw. More than two in five (42.9%) rated their experience as “very good”. Compared to 2016, the proportion of individuals who rate their experience as “good” has decreased by 0.9 percentage points.

However, NHS England’s GP Patient Survey also showed it is becoming more difficult to book an appointment. The proportion of people who find it easy to get through to their GP surgery on the phone is declining, figures show.

“General practice is the foundation of the NHS and this survey shows patients appreciate the fantastic job GPs and the wider primary care work force are doing in times of real pressure with more patients having increasingly complex conditions.”

Dr Arvind Madan, Director of Primary Care, NHS England When asked how difficult it is to get through to someone at their GP surgery on the phone, 68% said it was easy, while 18 per cent said it was not very easy and a further 10% said it was not at all easy. This shows a decline on the previous year, when 70% found it easy.

In 2012, 78% of people found it easy to get through on the phone. People were also asked how often they see or speak to their preferred GP, of which 383,770 people answered the question.

Of these, 56% see their preferred GP always or a lot of the time, down from 58% the previous year and 65% in 2012. Almost one in 10 patients (nine per cent) said they never or almost never get to see the GP of their choice, down from eight per cent the previous year and six per cent in 2012.

Of the 84% people who got an appointment the last time they tried, 38% got it on the same day, 10% the next working day, 28% a few days later and a fifth waited a week or more, up slightly on last year. But three-quarters of people are satisfied with GP opening hours, with fewer than one in 10 fairly or very dissatisfied.

Out of hours When it comes to using NHS services when a GP surgery is closed, such as the 111 helpline or out-of-hours services, two-thirds said their last experience was good, down slightly on the previous year, while 15% said it was poor.

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Dr Arvind Madan, director of primary care for NHS England, said: “General practice is the foundation of the NHS and this survey shows patients appreciate the fantastic job GPs and the wider primary care work force are doing in times of real pressure with more patients having increasingly complex conditions.

“Despite GPs and their practice teams working flat out to provide as good a service as they can and see as many patients as promptly as possible, these figures reflect the growing impact from the unsustainable pressures facing general practice.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, Acting Chairman, British Medical Association’s GP committee “Access to GPs is already expanding with 17 million people now able to get an appointment in the evening and at weekends, and everyone will be able to by March 2019.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, acting chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: “Despite GPs and their practice teams working flat out to provide as good a service as they can and see as many patients as promptly as possible, these figures reflect the growing impact from the unsustainable pressures facing general practice. “It is unfair on patients across the country that their increasing needs are not being recognised by the Government, which is failing to address increasing staff shortages and is providing insufficient funding, leaving too many patients waiting longer for the care they need.”

Dr Vautrey called on the government to implement a “long-term, sustainable plan” to ensure there are enough GPs to see patients in need of care as quickly as possible.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Our patients should be able to see a GP when they need to, so it’s very concerning that more people are having to wait for longer to get appointments with their GP or practice nurse.

It is particularly worrying that some patients are deciding not to seek medical advice at all if they are not able to get an appointment initially. “Unfortunately, what we are seeing now is the result of a decade of under investment in general practice which has led to a severe shortage of GPs, and it is our patients who ultimately bear the brunt.