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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

96% of patients have confidence in their GP, NHS England survey shows

Almost all patients continue to trust their GP and other practice staff, NHS England's latest annual survey of primary care patients has revealed.

This year's NHS England GP Survey, completed by 770,512 patients in England, showed 96% of patients had trust and confidence in the healthcare professional they talked to or saw during their last GP appointment - the same proportion as in 2018.

Meanwhile, 83% of patients reported having a 'good' overall experience at their GP practice this year - similar to the 84% last year.

However, this year's survey showed a continuous fall in the number of patients who find it easy to get in touch with their GP practice, with 68% saying it was easy to get through to someone on the phone. This compares with 70% in 2018 and 81% in 2012.

The new GP patient survey also found that four in 10 patients did not manage to see or speak to a healthcare professional when they wanted to, or sooner, representing a drop of one percentage point compared with last year. 

In addition, around three in 10 patients argued it was 'not easy' to get through to someone at their surgery on the phone.

NHS England noted that GPs continue to face pressure and increasing demand and said it would be launching a review of access to general practice across England this year.

Dr Nikita Kanani, acting director of primary care for NHS England, said: 'Family doctors in England see nearly one million people every day and this survey shows they appreciate the fantastic job they do alongside other practice staff such as nurses and pharmacists.'

She added: 'We will look at making improvements to pre-bookable and same day GP appointments, reviewing patient feedback on face-to-face and online consultations, delivering greater choice and access to appropriate care for patients.'

GP leaders have previously warned of the 'intense resource and workforce pressures' facing general practice after analysis by healthcare think tanks found public satisfaction with the NHS was at its lowest since 2007. They said satisfaction could have been been far lower if it weren't for the hard work of GPs and their teams.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: 'These figures clearly demonstrate that the majority of patients remain satisfied with their experience at GP surgeries in England – with more than 80% rating this as good, only a minor fall on last year’s results.

'Meanwhile an overwhelming 95 per cent of patients have ‘confidence and trust’ in the practitioner they last saw.

'These high levels of satisfaction are a testament to how hard GPs and their teams are working in practices up and down the country, and come against a backdrop of a rising population and diminishing GP numbers.'

In 2017, a study revealed that patients who see different GPs from visit to visit are more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital.

In March, a study showed four in 10 GPs want to leave the profession in next five years, stating work intensity and workload as the main factors for leaving.

Meanwhile, the current workforce crisis in GP practices has been said to hinder the Government’s plan to move hospital care into practices, a report revealed earlier last month.

Key findings from the NHS England GP patient survey

  • 83% of patients said they had a good experience of their GP practice
  • 68% found it easy to reach their practice through the phone
  • 68% described their overall experience of booking an appointment as good
  • 68% were satisfied with the appointment slots made available to them 



Readers' comments (14)

  • Didn't the survey include what % of GP's have confidence in NHSE?

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  • You want more access, you need more doctors and nurses.
    You want more doctors and nurses, you need to get the terms and conditions right.
    No other solution will work.
    - Online algorithms: likely to have minimal effect. Studies suggest patients will game the system to get what they perceive they want.
    - Noctors using algorithms: the persistent worried well will get though to a doctor eventually, the actually sick probably won’t. A&E will be overwhelmed with sore fingers.
    - Video consultations: won’t make a positive difference to workload, might make a negative one as expectations will drive demand. Likely to open another door to trivia.
    - Online booking: in my practice has a very high DNA rate compared to other modalities; and many online bookings are made for trivial illnesses.
    Build another road and you get more cars, and yet another traffic jam.

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  • NHS ENGLAND HAVE NO POWER TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT ACCESS...BECAUSE THEY CAN'T CONTROL MARKET FORCES.
    IT IS THE USUAL "WE WILL LOOK INTO IT"...THAT IS WHAT THE TORIES ALWAYS SAY.
    DO THEY REALLY THINK EVERYBODY IS STUPID?
    CLEARLY EITHER THEY DO OR THEY ARE LIVING STILL IN A FANTASY LAND, REMOVED FROM ALL UNPLEASANT REALITIES IN BIG, AIR-CONDITIONED ROOMS BUZZING THROUGH FOR TEA AND CAKE AND SPINNING MORE CRAP.

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  • But for the 4% you need appraisals, tons of hoops and targets and wasting time on these. The CQC is struggling to find things to fault and are nit picking now, asking for locks and dealing with scripts that nobody can forge like gold bars, driving people away.

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  • when will they wake up to the fact that this is pure and simple a manpower issue, everything else they do just increases patient access and creates even more work !

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  • "More patients 'struggling to reach GP on phone'" is the BBC health headline with regards to the same survey. The media love a negative GP bashing story.

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  • More boots on the ground are needed, they are not prepared to pay the price tough ,things are going to get a lot worse.The Job is crap you arent paying or training enough for attrition.

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  • Vinci Ho

    As far as the new ideology of Primary Care Network (PCN) is concerned , I would think this survey marks the ground zero reference point . Any deviation ( better or worse) from this in the coming years will certainly judge whether PCN was a success or failure.

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  • National Hopeless Service

    Well thats super. So now we can dispense with Friends and Family, appraisal and CQC.....

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  • End Game, has pretty much hit the nail on the head. Typical British medical trying to portray us in a bad light, yet again. When really we are doing well. People like their GP. There just aren't enough of them.

    No App will change this but it will make some people very rich indeed for very little work.

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