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GP patients prefer giving feedback via simple comments box

The best way to encourage patient feedback is by ‘keeping things simple’, according to Healthwatch.

GP patients prefer giving feedback to their practices via a traditional comments box, as opposed to new digital channels, a poll revealed.

The survey, of 1,808 adults in England, was carried out by YouGov on behalf of Healthwatch, and found that of those that had given feedback:

  • 44% used a comments box;
  • 18% approached reception staff face to face;
  • 16% approached the GP face to face; and
  • just 3% used social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

The survey found that although 76% of adults in England would want to share feedback with GPs to improve services, only 23% said they had actually done so. The most common reason given (by 37% of respondents) was being unsure how to provide comments and raise concerns.

However, when those who had never given feedback were asked which methods would encourage them to do so in future, 30% said they were most likely to respond to text or email follow-ups after a consultation, while 28% said they would prefer a comments box.

Imelda Redmond, national director of Healthwatch England, said: ‘Up and down the country it is clear that people value their local doctors’ surgeries and can see the pressure they are under. It is also clear they want to do their bit to help by sharing their experiences.

‘People tell us they want providing feedback to be simple, clear and confidential. Healthwatch is here to help busy surgeries not only improve how they seek feedback but also help GPs and practice managers explain how this insight is being used to give people the care they want.’

It comes as patients were significantly more likely to complain about their GP services in the past year, according to data released by NHS Digital.

Across primary care, written complaints increased by 9.7% compared to the year before, with the total number rising from 82,559 in 2015/16 to 90,579 in 2016/17.

Of these, 83.2% related to GP surgeries, while 14.6% related to dental practices.