GP patient satisfaction rising despite ongoing crisis

Patient satisfaction with general practice has risen over the past year despite the growing crisis facing the profession, results of the latest GP survey reveal.

Just six months after LMCs met in London for a special conference to debate the crisis facing general practice, the 2016 GP patient survey - based on responses from more than 800,000 people across England - found that more than 85% of patients rate their overall experience of their GP practice as good.

A total of 85.2% of patients rated their practice as good overall in 2015/16, up 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, almost eight out of 10 patients would recommend their GP practice to someone new to their area and around three quarters were satisfied with opening hours, with findings on each of these areas up from the previous year.

GP patient satisfaction

The survey shows that practices are continuing to deliver high standards of care despite growing pressures highlighted by GP leaders throughout the year.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul told the UK LMCs conference in May that practice closures were 'at record levels', with official data suggesting that more than 200 had closed their doors over the past year. 

GPonline revealed in March that NHS officials had declared 20% of practices in parts of England 'vulnerable', while BMA research found that one in 10 were financially unsustainable.

A GPonline investigation earlier this year revealed that patient survey scores are heavily linked to funding, with practices receiving the most funding per patient scoring better in satisfaction surveys.

The survey revealed drops in patient satisfaction with some areas of care, with a fall in the proportion of patients able to see their preferred GP, and patients with long-term conditions suggesting they did not receive enough support.

GP crisis

NHS England director of primary care Dr Arvind Madan said: 'The GP patient survey shows patients appreciate the fantastic job GPs and the wider primary care workforce are doing in challenging times.

'The findings also reinforce the case for investing in and strengthening primary care, exactly as we are now doing. Our GP Forward View, which committed to increasing investment in services culminating in an extra £2.4bn a year by 2020/21 to support primary care, will stabilise and transform general practice, manage demand on services and expand the workforce.'

Survey findings:

  • 85.2% described the overall experience of their GP surgery as good (up 0.4 percentage points).
  • 73.4% of patients rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good (up 0.1 percentage points).
  • 78.0% would recommend their GP surgery to someone who just moved into their local area (up 0.5 percentage points).
  • 49.2% of patients said they have a GP they prefer to see or speak to (down 2.6 percentage points). Of those who have a preferred GP, 58.4% said that they see or speak to them a lot of the time, almost always or always (down 1.2 percentage points).
  • 75.9% of patients are satisfied with the hours that their GP surgery is open (up 1.0 percentage points).
  • 74.6% of patients said that their GP surgery is open at times that are convenient for them (up 0.8 percentage points).

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