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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Patient satisfaction with GPs high despite 'tsunami of problems'

Patient satisfaction with GP services remains high with more than 85% describing their overall experience of their GP surgery as good, results from a major national survey show.

The Ipsos MORI poll of more than 900,000 patients also reveals 86% are able to get an appointment with their GP and only 16% of patients have to wait more than a week.

The majority of patients - 92% - who manage to get an appointment say it is at a ‘convenient’ time, and three quarters of patients say the same about their practice’s opening hours, with only 19% saying the opening hours are inconvenient. This is despite the Government’s continued push towards extended access, including providing £50m central funding to GP practices across England, in order to ‘suit busy lifestyles’.

The survey also shows that the majority of patients who struggle to get an appointment at a convenient time keep on trying until they get one, with only 9% choosing to go to A&E or a walk-in centre instead.

The survey casts doubt on recent claims by health ministers that telehealth could solve access problems and missed appointments by making GPs more convenient, as just 6% of patients say they want to speak with a GP over the phone - compared to 77% who want to see their GP in person.

Overall 93% of patients have ‘trust and confidence’ in their GP however patient satisfaction has declined slightly (1-4%) across the board since June 2013. Satisfaction with out-of-hours services shows the biggest decline, with 66% of patients describing their experience of out-of-hours GP services as good - a drop of 4 per cent since June last year.

GPC negotiator and Cornwall GP Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said GPs and their staff should be applauded for delivering overwhelming satisfaction while seeing an additional 40 million patients each year amidst a ‘tsunami of problems’.

Dr McCarron –Nash told Pulse: ‘We’re delivering much more with less and yet still patient’s express, on the whole their overwhelming satisfaction with GP services. That’s a real achievement and it should be applauded.’

The slight decline in satisfaction was perhaps not surprising as ‘something had to give’, she added. ‘I think we will see patients having to wait longer, because we are struggling to match resource and services to the increasing demand. And I think as a result – unless we do see a significant shift into core funding and support for general practices to deliver services to patients – then something’s going to have to give.’

‘General practice is facing a tsunami of problems and needs urgently rectifying; we need to secure sustainable resource in to practices so that we can continue to deliver high quality services for patients.’

NHS England’s head of primary care commissioning and York GP, Dr David Geddes, agreed the figures are a testament to GPs’ ‘hard work’, but continuing downward trends needed to be recognised.

Dr Geddes said: ‘Overall, these results show that the majority of patients are positive about their GP services, which is testament to the hard work of GPs and their staff. But we need to recognise the continuing trend in what patients are telling us about access to services, particularly out of hours.”

In recent months both the RCGP and BMA have launched campaigns to raise awareness of the pressures on general practice, and calling for increased funding. And Professor Nigel Mathers, RCGP honorary secretary, said he hoped that politicans would ‘take note’ of the survey results that highlighted some patients are struggling to get an appointment when they want one.

He said: “We hope politicians act on our calls for general practice to receive 11% of the NHS budget by 2017. This would allow us to recruit more GPs and offer more services and appointments for patients, so that we are able to give them the care that they need and deserve, when they want it.”

Readers' comments (9)

  • Vinci Ho

    'Hope' politicians to act ....?
    We do not serve for the politicians , we look after our patients . The politicians have the duty to protect NHS and they are failing completely .
    They must not take any credit on these results.......

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  • Hard work is a gross understatement. I have just resigned from my full-time (all the bloody time) current partnership so I can take up a half time less busy post elsewhere

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  • That is just bloody good news! Phew, I am relieved.
    As part of 360 feedback, my satisfaction score with the job is currently 0%.
    Why? Because it is about the "crappiest" job I could ever envisage. I would not wish it as a punishment metered out on those society despises. It is a job seemingly exempt from Human rights or the expectation of being treated other than an animal and whipping boy for politicians and media rage. We are told that it is an "honour" to be a GP, well if this is a bloody honour, I would hate to think what a punishment is????

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  • Having just watched the BBC local news about a practice closing because they can't recruit it's blatantly obvious from the tone of the interviewer that the people in the media out there don't give a s**t, think we're massively over paid and are lucky to have the job we have. Another story on the BBC national news tonight about A&E again..and questions in parliament about A&E waiting times..the NHS is secondary care only - primary care doesn't exist and is of no importance to these political people except in the context of how it can help out the real Drs in hospital.

    At work today trying to admit a man to hospital I spoke to a nurse in that hospital on the phone who treated me with absolute contempt and tried to refuse my referral on the basis it didn't quite fit their 'admission criteria' for my queried diagnosis. Yesterday I was abused by an aggressive man demanding a referral to a service that didn't even exist because he was outraged at having to wait 10 days to see someone else for the very same non urgent problem. All petty stuff but routine and normal every single day. I quit my job as a salaried GP to became a locum because what I was being asked to do was unreasonable and unfair..I'm one of the Drs who might have applied to work in the local practice on my local news that is now closing down but I didn't apply because the workload in general practice is so unpleasant, unrelenting, unsupported and unbearable ...the longer I do locum work the more I realise that I actually need to leave medicine period. Continuing is simply supporting the lie spun by the idiots in government and the media who claim everything is fine and GPs just need to 'up their game'. Read in 'The Times' Alice Thompson's bigoted drivel: "These over paid Drs must stop whingeing" 28/5/14 if you need any evidence of the level of shear media ignorance there is out there and this woman is apparently a friend of David Cameron! The political people and media who support them don't value primary isn't going to get better again...this isn't a career to spend time in. GPs are the joke of the age and you would only stay if you get off at being spat at.

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  • Someone needs to put this study in front of Dr Dan, and make him read it. Then he should write an essay: 'explain in 1000 words why it is a good idea to extend GP opening hours'.

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  • Such biased reporting, by both the Daily Mail and Pulse with opposite biases!

    Hopefully someone will give a more balanced view from somewhere in the middle...

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  • This would have been hysterical if it was not so tragic.
    In 12 years in the UK I have never met a GP that was satisfied with their jobs and likewise never met a patient that was satisfied with their GP's care. In mitigation, this is not a UK only phenomenon but a general EU experience. The real situation out there is worse than anyone seems to realise. GP's are seriously neglecting patients and patients are blocked from receiving secondary care due to the GP gatekeeper roll. My own GP is refusing to treat or refer me (I have to admit that I am not the most agreeable patient, but then also I never complains unnecessarily). I have to buy my own blood pressure tablets and statins off the internet. My dysritmia and chronic kidney disease cannot be followed up due to no referral... etc. etc.
    So what am I to do? The GMC is a protector of bad doctors and the CQC a no good for anything buro-psychopath.
    Fortunately, some wise men in the past had establish a good British legal system: GP clinical negligence claim pending!

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  • Start making plans to resign, retire or relocate now

    General practice is not going to be fixed until it's broken. Do you want to be the one left 'holding the baby'?

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  • Pieter Jooste. you are case in point. Why can you not work with your GP rather than against him/her. Any relationship needs trust and if you don't trust them then change GPs. If you cannot trust any doctor, likely as a result of what society/media tells you, then that is what is wrong with Britain today. Unfortunately it will be to your detriment.
    People trust and respect doctors here in Canada. I wonder why its so different, the doctors are no better. If anything the quality of GP in UK is higher, pergaps its the comparison to nearby USA healthcare or the fact we don't have to be gatekeepres here and can give pt what they want rather than what they need although they rarely demand anything like this.

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