Patients’ overall experience of their GP surgery has declined and more patients are waiting longer to get an appointment, new data shows.
The national GP patient survey, published yesterday by NHS England, shows patients reporting a good or very good experience of their GP surgery has fallen from 88 per cent in June 2012 to 84 per cent in March 2017, while the number of patients saying they would recommend their GP has fallen from 82 per cent to 77 per cent over the same period.
The survey, which was collected from January to March 2017 and had over 800,000 responses, also suggests patients are waiting longer to see their GP.
Data for March 2017 shows 20 per cent of patients reported they had to wait a week or more to see or speak to someone at their GP surgery, compared with 13 per cent in June 2012.
The survey found no increase in patients’ ability to get an appointment when they need –despite a national drive in recent years to improve access to GP services, and a push from NHS England to have 100 per cent coverage of extended GP opening hours by April 2019.
The number of patients who said yes when asked if their GP surgery is open at a convenient time has fallen from 78 per cent to 75 per cent in the last five years.
The data also shows a sharp decline in patients saying they are always or almost always able to see their preferred GP – from 65 per cent in 2012 to 55 per cent in 2017. This follows a significant fall in the number of GPs working in the NHS in recent years.
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 underinvestment in general practice, which has led to a severe shortage of GPs, and it is our patients who ultimately bear the brunt.
“Despite the unprecedented workload and workforce issues currently facing general practice, our hard working GPs and their teams across the country will be heartened to see that 92 per cent of patients continue to have confidence and trust in their GP, and are happy with the care they receive.”
The GP patient survey data was previously published biannually, however from July 2017 it will be published annually.
GP patient survey
6 July 2017