Someone somewhere sometime must have said that we aspire to World Class GPs, because that’s exactly the sort of Grade A vacuous bullshit NHSE spouts. That said, it does look like we are actually up there on the podium with a gold medal. Because in terms of patient dissatisfaction we are now streets ahead, with patient satisfaction rates of 38% representing a new low since the previous worst record of 68% set in 2019.
So long as you see patient dissatisfaction as a marker of GPs correctly saying no to demands that patients incorrectly make, as I do, then I think that’s cause for celebration. If, on the other hand, you reckon these surveys are a valid take on quality then maybe we have to think again. Perhaps services – or the public’s perception of them – haven’t been up to scratch for the last couple of years, though I’m really struggling to think of any significant event in that timeframe that could have had that sort of impact.
Whatever. A cursory look at the data shows that one of the main grumbles is, yawn, an inability to get an appointment. But I think it goes deeper than that. Because even when people do get an appointment, they may well not be happy with who they end up with. The much trumpeted 16,000 ARRS cavalry, and the much less trumpeted minus 182 more GPs in the last month, means that the ‘health professional’ the patient sees is increasingly likely to be a Noctor – or even, as the ARRS remit widens, staff absences increase and desperation creeps in, not even a Noctor, but a Nonoctor.
And while: ‘Are you happy with appointment availability?’ is easy to stick on a survey, ‘Are you happy that your central crushing chest pain was dealt with by a healthcare assistant wondering if you should try an antacid?’ doesn’t quite fit.
All of which is somewhat disheartening, particularly as it coincides with the resurrection of another great survey of our World Classness, the Friends and Family Test. After all, the way things are going, the question: ‘Would you recommend your practice to your friends and family?’ would surely beg the answer: ‘Only if I hate them’.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/copperfield