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‘Good’ GP experience takes 10-point dive in patient survey

‘Good’ GP experience takes 10-point dive in patient survey

The proportion of patients having an overall ‘good’ experience of their GP practice has decreased by over 10 percentage points, dropping from 83% in 2021 to 72% in 2022.

The NHS’s latest GP patient survey revealed the figures, published this month but covering January to April 2022, showing that patient satisfaction levels have decreased since the height of the pandemic.

The figures also showed a further 10% percentage point decline in patients who were ‘satisfied with the appointment offered, and accepted it’ – down to 72% in 2022 from 82% in 2021.

Chair of Gateshead and South Tyneside LMC and GP Dr Paul Evans told Pulse the results were ‘somewhat puzzling’, given that ‘only yesterday, a rise in general practice appointments was being cited as one of the reasons behind the surprising economic growth seen in the last couple of months’.

He said: ‘It is also surprising given that we know that the overall volume of appointments has gone up, with a smaller workforce. I suspect this largely reflects patient’s frustrations, as GPs are not able to accelerate their hospital care, or indeed manage their conditions in primary care. And there may be an element of displacement, possibly also fed by the media.’

He added: ‘At the coalface, we’re seeing patients complain about their GPs, but the underlying issue is that their overall care is rubbish, and they tend to blame the GPs for the fact they can’t access physiotherapy in a timely fashion, or their hip replacement has been pending for 18 months now.

‘They complain about the GPs because they go to the GP saying, “can’t you can’t you do something here?” And the GP has to say, “No, actually, I’m at the end of the line here.”‘

A total of 56% said they had a ‘good experience of making an appointment’, compared with 71% in 2021 and 66% in 2020 – and with 53% agreeing they found it ‘easy to get through to their practice by phone’.

The annual survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of NHS England since 2007, polled 720,000 patients in England.

The survey also revealed that:

  • 49% of patients received a phone appointment when they last tried to make an appointment, up from 47% in 2021
  • 46% were seen in person, down from 48% in 2021
  • 2% had an online appointment, down from 3% in 2021
  • 3% were seen at another practice location, the same as last year
  • 0.5% had a home visit, the same as last year
  • 51% saw or spoke to someone ‘at a time they wanted to or sooner’, down from 59% in 2021 
  • 93% said they ‘have confidence and trust in the healthcare professional they saw’, down from 96% in 2021
  • More than four in five said ‘their needs were met at their last appointment’

Another survey in March 2022 also found that patient satisfaction with GP services has taken a 30 percentage-point dive since before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday that a ‘large rise in GP appointments’ was a main contributor to UK economic growth in May.

Responding to the GP patient survey results, BMA England GP committee chair Dr Farah Jameel said: ‘It’s only right that patients expect and deserve high-quality, timely care whenever they interact with their GP practice, and we share their frustration when this doesn’t happen.

‘We too feel dissatisfied after years of under-investment, ever increasing workload, and a Government who has not been listening to us.’

She added: ‘The fall in patient satisfaction with making an appointment is a stark reflection of the capacity shortfall that general practice is facing.’

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘It’s never easy to hear patients reporting unsatisfactory experiences of receiving general practice care, or that they are having difficulties accessing our services.’

He said the findings ‘reflect an over-stretched service, with GPs and our teams doing our best for patients under intense workload and workforce pressures’.

Also responding to the results, senior fellow at the King’s Fund think tank Beccy Baird, said GPs are working ‘harder than ever before’.

She said: ‘For many of us, general practice is the front door to the NHS – these results show that patients are finding that door increasingly hard to push open.’

She added: ‘Many of the challenges patients face accessing their GP stem from the chronic staff shortages that have plagued services for years. Practices can’t recruit enough GPs, nurses or other professionals to meet the rising levels of need, because in many cases those staff simply don’t exist.

‘There has been a failure of successive governments to adequately plan and invest in the future NHS workforce, a failure that has left GPs and patients to pick up the pieces.’

READERS' COMMENTS [11]

Vinci Ho 14 July, 2022 1:59 pm

So what are the equivalent results for hospital consultants , I wonder ?🤨😳

Patrufini Duffy 14 July, 2022 2:00 pm

The survey in itself needs a rating – of pointless; slagging off a system issue with GPs at the firing end. Go rate an airport, politician, energy company or offshore account.
No you won’t.
So time and brain warped.
And all they want is more feedback on you (not them).
Ugly lot really.

Chris GP 14 July, 2022 2:09 pm

…well – my satisfaction with the way I am chewed up and spat out on a daily basis has probably dropped over the last few years too so I guess we can call it quits.

Patrufini Duffy 14 July, 2022 2:33 pm

I had a little look into what is going on here, and found something quite alarming = *maybe Pulse may want to too.
I have searched local practices.
The gathering of data on practices is fundamentally flawed – as is their “comparison” ideology.
And you may all want to do the same – ***especially a small list site in your area.

A small list surgery of 1,800 list (had 690 surveys sent out) and a surgery of list 25,000 (had 477 surveys sent out). A surgery of list 12,000 (had 348 surveys sent out).

Why did the big practice not get 9,660 surveys sent out, to capture proportionate data?
This will be nationwide.

Exactly. Smells off.
Any CQC budding inspector should clean their goggles, if this is what makes their mouths water.

Turn out The Lights 14 July, 2022 3:46 pm

I dont give a damn anymore.Deregulate the system.Privatize it.Allow us to be professionals and close our list when we feel we are at capacity and have to much work.Oh No they will try an control us by kicking 10 tonnes of crap out of us using the right wing press/patients/cqc/ srvey/GMC F&F etc etc etc.They must be TAPS.It doesn’t work anymore.Bothered I am not.

David Jarvis 14 July, 2022 7:10 pm

This is just another load of hot air and frankly I really don’t care. I don’t feel angry I am at peace. I do what I can and if that is not enough then the unsatisfied person needs to search elsewhere for a solution. I feel no need to satisfy them. I do not need their vote or their love. They need me and I am rationing myself for my own wellbeing. Who they vote for but also how others misuse resources. Perhaps they actually really do just need more GP’s

Bonglim Bong 15 July, 2022 9:26 am

@Patrufini D – Although I am not a huge fan of the survey – I don’t think your complaint is valid. The number of questionnaires that need sending is not directly proportional to the size of the practice -as long as it is representative of the population. And the way the patients are selected and the data is then handled is pretty accurate given the data supplied.

The ‘errors’ in this process are pretty significant to. People are happy and cross based on how well their expectations are met. If I take over 2 practices and give an average middle of the road service.
But practice A was used to a gold plated service before I took over
And practice B was terrible before I took over

Then practice A would give me a very negative rating and B an excellent rating.

you could probably fine a correlation to other factors like:
– How many of the local population get the Daily Fail or DT delivered
– The age of local population
and so on.

Patrufini Duffy 15 July, 2022 1:23 pm

@Bonglim – taken on board.

But like you said: “as long as it is representative of the population”. It isn’t.
If 100 replies are sent back for a list of 2,000 and 90 replies are sent back for a list of 25,000 then it is not proportionate.

And that is what’s going on.
And thus the data is flawed.
There is something else at work here – and I believe it is less scrutiny of large sites and their workings.

Decorum Est 15 July, 2022 4:12 pm

@David Jarvis – I think you have eloquently expressed the feeling among many mature GPs.

David Jarvis 15 July, 2022 5:51 pm

I am increasingly aware of manipulation tools being used like these crap surveys. That is because they want more for nothing and feel that shaming us and belittling is somehow going to motivate us to work harder for nothing extra. I find myself actually feeling more powerful because they are demonstrating their frustration and impotence like toddlers having a tantrum. My kids tantrums ddn’t work on me and frankly neither will this. It only upsets you if you allow it to. The more of this that happens the more the problem that they own not I is starting to bother them. So my yeah whatever and carry on is actually a very powerful weapon. I am going to kill them with indifference. I was around before them and I will be around long after them and I don’t respect their opinion. Once you acheive this state ticking the right boxes on their stupid forms to get my patient seen becomes easy. Kicking down hurdles in their so called pathway. I care not one jot about their weighting list issues my responsibility is the medical care of the patient in front of me. I used to care about efficient use of resources but they no longer respect my opinion on who requires specialist input so sod em.

Karen Potterton 15 July, 2022 11:49 pm

🤣🤣🤣 Oh my days look at us all angsting over patient ‘satisfaction’. Where exactly are we worried that they’ll all take their trade to since we are so inadequate?
What is the what if here?
Come on comrades, ffs grow a pair.