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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.