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Patient survey ‘will worsen access’ say NI GPs

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs in Northern Ireland have warned patients that access to their GPs will be worsened by a ‘flawed' patient survey.

At the Northern Ireland LMCs conference in Fermanagh on Sunday, GP leaders accused the Northern Irish Government of misleading patients by telling them completing the questionnaires would improve general practice.

Brian Dunn said: ‘Despite the fact that many practices will score highly, the outcomes of this survey are likely to result, once again, with the removal of funding from local family doctors.

‘I simply don't know how removing funds will improve general practice. Practices already providing good access are rapidly becoming disillusioned.'

A motion calling on the Health and Social Care Board to take action to ensure practices are not unfairly penalised by the results of the patient survey was passed unanimously by the conference.

Dr David Ross, a GP in Saintfield, County Down, and member of Southern LMC proposed the motion and said: ‘This survey is fundamentally flawed. As a GP providing a service to my patients, I don't mind being judged on how well my practice delivers care to our patients.

‘What I mind is being judged by the perception of a minority of patients when I can provide incontrovertible evidence on what access is actually provided.'

The patient survey 'will worsen patient care', GPs warned The motion in full

That this Conference calls on the Health and Social Care Board to:

(i) recognise that GPs in Northern Ireland were treated unfairly in assessment of the PE7 & 8 indicators,
(ii) consider practices' appeals properly and on an individual basis, and
(iii) ensure that general practice is not defunded as a consequence of this flawed process.

That this Conference calls on the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland to resolve the practice disputes around PE7 & 8 promptly.