Weston’s GP surgeries fall behind village practices in patient survey

PUBLISHED: 17:00 08 August 2017

The GP patient survey was conducted earlier this year.

The GP patient survey was conducted earlier this year.

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North Somerset’s GP surgeries have been under the microscope this month, with patients’ surveys revealing the issues affecting healthcare services in the district.

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In November last year, the Mercury reported Weston’s GP services were in ‘crisis’, according comments made by Stafford Place patient participation group chairman Steve Emery at a North Somerset Council meeting.

His sentiments were echoed by Cllr Richard Nightingale, who said the town’s GPs were being ‘stretched beyond breaking point’ amid financial strain.

But now patients have had their say on the area’s surgeries in NHS England’s GP patient survey.

From January to March, patients were canvassed by NHS England and were asked what they thought of doctors, nurses, waiting times, appointment availability, and other issues.

Confidence and trust in nurse

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The survey

Some 43 per cent said their overall experience of GP services was very good, compared to just six per cent which rated their experience fairly poor or very poor, which represents a marginal improvement on 2016.

Confidence and Trust in GP

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The availability of appointments in North Somerset has improved on last year, where 10 per cent were unable to book an appointment compared to eight per cent this year.

At the 13 surgeries in the Mercury patch, 17 per cent of respondents said it was very easy to speak to someone on the phone, while 13 per cent said it was not at all easy.

The Mercury selected six categories which it deemed key measures of surgeries in the area. These covered GPs, nurses, waiting times, opening times, appointment availability and overall experience.

Longton Grove Surgery, in Locking, and Winscombe Surgery were strong performers in the survey, ranking in the top-three in four of the six key categories.

Able to get an appointment

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Longton Grove’s appearances in the top three doubled on last year’s survey, while Winscombe replicated their success from last year.

Weston’s surgeries did not fare as well in the survey, with Stafford Medical Group (four), and Tudor Lodge Surgery and Locality Health Centre (three), making several appearances in the bottom three.

Graham Road Surgery ranked in the bottom three in five of the six key categories, compared to three in 2016.

The Milton Surgery increased its top-three rankings from one to three this year, while New Court Surgery in Locking Road saw its top-three rankings drop from five to two.

Impession of waiting time at surgery

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Clarence Park Surgery improved on 2016’s survey, particularly in the opening times category where it placed second bottom last year with 68 per cent saying openings were convenient, compared to 84 per cent this year which earned a top-three ranking.

Expert’s view

Overall experience of GP surgery

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Eileen Jacques, chief officer of Healthwatch North Somerset, said ‘most people in North Somerset report a good overall experience of their GP surgery’.

She added: “However, access to appointments continues to be difficult for a sizeable number of people, for example, 29 per cent of local people said it was not easy to access their GP surgery on the phone and eight per cent reported they could not get an appointment.

“The majority (61 per cent) of responders to the survey were of working age and of those, 31 per cent said they could not leave work for an appointment, therefore access to GP appointments for this group of local people could be challenging. A number of people proposed additional opening hours notably before and after working hours and Saturdays.”

Ms Jacques told the Mercury she was ‘surprised’ by the lack of awareness of online GP services ‘in the light of the difficulties for some of getting through on the phone’.

Is the GP Surgery currently open at times that are convenient

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She added: “The development and promotion of on line services by GP surgeries may ease some pressure for patients who find it difficult to access their surgery by other means.

“GP surgeries are the first service that most people access when they have a health problem and they are also the access point for many other health services as often GPs must provide the referrals.

“We are aware of the increasing pressures on health services and note that despite these pressures North Somerset GP Practices continue to provide a service that the majority are happy with.”

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