A survey we conducted has highlighted patients’ experiences of accessing GP services across the county.
More than 1,300 responses to the survey conducted in summer 2022 were received from patients, carers and the wider public – revealing the different ways that they were now accessing GP services.
Survey questions focused on what worked well and what, in their opinion, could be improved.
Most respondents stated that their appointment was conducted via telephone, closely followed by a face-to-face appointment. These findings reflect Derbyshire GP appointment figures from 2022 where 357,000 appointments were carried out face-to-face and 146,091 appointments were carried out by telephone.
The five most common responses as to ‘what was good about your appointment’ were:
- Compassion shown during the appointment
- Telephone appointment was appropriate, convenient and met the person’s needs
- Practice/staff member/health profession were responsive to questions and followed up within an appropriate timescale
- Clear communication which patients could understand
- Short and acceptable waits for an appointment
We have also outlined some recommendations for improvement which have been shared with GPs and service commissioners.
- Further consideration of how eConsult or other web-based forms of appointments could be introduced with greater communication amongst patients as many were unaware that this option was available
- Better utilisation of alternative practitioners to GPs and highlighting the benefits of this to patients
- Improvements to GP booking systems – particularly with clearly communicated alternatives to booking appointments by telephone which can result in longer waiting times
- Greater communication around service provision to help manage patient expectations
Healthwatch Derbyshire CEO Helen Henderson said:
"The work captured in this report is not intended as a critique of GP services and the pressures faced across the NHS are well documented.
As services started pandemic recovery and a level of normality returned, we were increasingly being contacted by patients voicing their frustrations at not being able to access face-to-face appointments.
The perception from some patients appeared that they expected GP services to be delivered in the same way as before the pandemic and we therefore carried out the survey to gain a deeper understanding of people’s experiences and views.
Although the ways in which patients access their GP services is changing, it is important to note that, even before the pandemic, many GPs were increasingly offering a wider range of ways to access their services with moves to complement face-to-face appointments with a triage system, online bookings and video and phone consultations.
Our role has been to highlight the experiences of patients in accessing their GP service, identify areas for improving and encourage the sharing of good practice and we look forward to further dialogue with providers and commissioners moving forwards."
In response to the survey, Dr Ben Milton, Medical Director of Derby and Derbyshire Local Medical Committee, said:
"We welcome the positive experiences of many respondents when accessing their surgeries but also recognise the frustrations.
Demand continues to exceed supply with General Practice in Derbyshire currently providing almost twice as many appointments as it is effectively funded to do. pressures and a greater number of GPs retiring or leaving the profession that are being trained means there are no easy solutions and access will continue to be a challenge."
Clive Newman, Director of GP Development, NHS Derby and Derbyshire Integrated Care Board, concluded:
"We continue to work with our colleagues in General Practice to make improvements in all of the areas referenced in the survey questions – whether this be appointment systems, online booking applications, the range of staff working in practices and the types of appointments available – whether on the telephone or face-to-face.
We will continue to work to address the issues raised through the survey and these include a campaign to make sure patients know about and can access the full range of services available in primary care as well as raising awareness of the use of online booking and information tools such as eConsult and the NHS App."
Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our survey. To read the full GP Access report click here.