GP patients ‘unhappy’

PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 July 2015

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A THIRD of patients in North Somerset say they cannot get a GP appointment when they need one, according to the results of a new health survey.

Healthwatch North Somerset has been running a detailed study of patients’ views on the performance of their doctors, surgeries and staff.

The overall assessment is broadly positive, with four out of every five respondents happy with the care they receive – although difficulty securing appointments is a concern and a frustration for many.

The survey says: “We know from extensive public feedback that for local people their most important and valued health and social care service is the primary care service provided by GPs.

“GPs are the first point of contact for most patients for their general NHS healthcare needs.

“Our hope is that the residents of North Somerset, PPG representatives and the North Somerset Health Community take on board the experiences and views expressed and work towards resolving the issues that created difficulties for patients.”

Some of the key positives identified in the report include the fact that 70 per cent of people rate their GP surgery as either excellent or good, and 77 per cent scored the doctors equally highly.

However, 39 per cent say when they call their surgery they are on hold for up to five minutes, or ‘often have to hang up, or get disconnected, or timed out’.

Some 35 per cent said they ‘cannot get an appointment when they need it’, while 28 per cent said they avoid certain GPs at their surgery for reasons including ‘rudeness’ and being ‘dismissive’ of concerns. 40 per cent say their appointments are usually in excess of 15 minutes late, with only one per cent saying their appointments are always on time.

The study says: “Common themes arising from the comments included the difficulty in getting an appointment when required, not always being able to see their chosen GP, lack of continuity arising from not seeing the same GP each time, and appointment times being too short/feeling rushed during appointments.

“Respondents are generally unhappy with the speed at which they can get an appointment with their GP.

“Having made an appointment, respondents were asked about the length of wait in the waiting room when they attended the appointment; were they seen promptly? These results indicate that the majority have to wait beyond their appointment time once they get to the surgery.

“Reasons for the appointments running behind schedule are numerous and varied and might be caused by the patient, the GP, systems errors, or a combination of both.”

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