A public poll of more than 900,000 patients commissioned by NHS England has revealed telling figures about the quality and ease of access to GP services.
Results from the poll have been compared to those from a similar poll carried out 2 years ago. The main findings are:
- The overall degree of satisfaction remains high at around 85%.
- 75% rated the experience of making an appointment good.
- 24% said it was not easy to get through to their GP on the phone (a 6% rise since the previous poll).
- 11% reported that they were not able to get an appointment when they were able to get through to the practice.
- 8% of those that got an appointment felt it was at an inconvenient time.
- 86% said their overall experience was good when they did get to see a doctor or a practice nurse.
- Two thirds of those questioned rated out-of-hours care as good. However, 17% said it was poor – compared to 13% two years ago.
From viewing the figures it is clear to see that the majority of people have a positive view of their GP services. However, as previously recognised by the Department of Health, access to GPs is an issue. Some GPs have reported that they struggle to keep up with the workload generated by a growing population and rising demand for services. Increased funding is required to address the issue and the Department of Health is looking at ways of addressing this such as the launch of its £50m Challenge Fund to extend opening hours and improve communication channels.
Dr David Geddes from NHS England said “overall, these results show that the majority of patients are positive about their GP services, which is testament to the hard work of GPs and their staff. But we need to recognise the continuing trend in what patients are telling us about access to services.”
Dr Richard Vautrey of the British Medical Association said the overall satisfaction results were remarkable given the workload pressures GPs faced but added “it is a concern that the results show signs of slipping backwards. The government must heed these early warning signs, together with the recent falling GP recruitment figures, and urgently invest in general practice.”