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Independents' Day

Access not a high priority for patients

Patients prefer having a choice of appointment time and being able to see a GP of their choice to having quick access, a large study shows.

Having a choice of appointment time was six times more important than 48-hour access for people who worked, the GP-led research found.

Patients with a long-standing illness rated seeing their own GP as seven times more important than having a shorter waiting time.

Professor Greg Rubin, professor of primary care at the University of Sunderland and a GP in the city, said 48-hour access was too simplistic a measure.

He said: 'One of the important things about this study is it actually quantifies the fact many patients don't see that as the most important thing.

'The Department of Health should review the 48-hour target as a meaningful measure of access and think about alternatives that are a better reflection of the range of priorities people have.'

More than 1,000 patients at six GP surgeries were surveyed.

Women and elderly patients placed particular value on choice of doctor and were willing to wait an extra two days.

The results, published in the British Journal of General Practice, showed speed of access was only deemed important if the appointment was for a child or a new health problem.

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