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Patient survey supports move to boost online GP services, says minister

Almost a third of patients would like to book a GP appointment online, but only 3% are currently able to, the results of the national GP Patient survey show.

The DH said the annual survey of patient opinion supports their move to increase online services in GP practices.

Carried out on the DH’s behalf by Ipsos Mori, the survey showed the majority of respondents - 87.6%- said their overall experience of their GP practice was good.

This figure is 0.7 percentage points lower than the results for 2011/12, though the DH warned changes made to the survey this year made the data incomparable.

The survey found that almost all patients trust their GP; 92.8% of patients reported a level of confidence and trust in the last GP they saw, though this figures drops to 81.8% for out-of-hours clinicians.

While 80.5% of patients were happy with opening hours, many patients would like to see these extended.

Some 71% said opening on a Saturday would make it easier for them to see someone, 69% said the same for opening after 6:30pm, and about a third of respondents agreed access before 8am or on a Sunday would make life easier.

Commenting on the results of the survey, health minister Earl Howe said the survey results provided evidence that the Government was pursuing the right policies.

He said: ‘Making sure care given to patients with long-term conditions is world class is vital. This is precisely why we have proposed changes to the GP contract to make sure GPs think more about long term, integrated care for these patients.

He added: ‘More patients say they want to book their GP appointment online. That’s why in our Mandate to the NHS we are clear that everyone will be able to book their GP appointments, order a repeat prescription and talk to their GP practice online by 2015. This will help people better manage their health and care.’