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Gold, incentives and meh

Patients value continuity of care far more than extended hours, survey finds

By Gareth Iacobucci

Patients value continuity of care and their relationship with their GP far more than flexibility and extended opening, reveals a survey carried out by Pulse readers.

The survey - a key strand of Pulse's Save Our Surgeries campaign - asked patients to rate six aspects of GP care out of 10, with 0 representing ‘no value', and 10 being ‘extremely valuable'.

Data submitted by four practices found patients rated the doctor-patient relationship most highly, at 9.9 out of 10, while continuity of care scored an average of 8.7.

By contrast, convenience was less highly valued. The average score for flexibility of appointment time was just 7.6, while availability of extended hours rated only 6.0.

In the other categories, having a well-trained doctor scored an average of 9.5, while having a consultation that was patient-centred had an average rating of 8.3.

The findings mirror those from a recent study by the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, which found that patients valued seeing a doctor who knows them well almost twice as much as flexibility of appointment times.

Dr John Cormack, a GP in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, who played an active role in highlighting Pulse's campaign to patients, said the Government was yet to cotton on to the importance patients placed on knowing their GP.

He said: ‘The irony is Darzi has been saying we want a more personal and responsive health services, and his idea is to have these general practice factories. People like to go where you know their name and don't have to start again every time.'

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