GPC praises practice performance in swine flu year

The GPC has praised practices for scoring highly in the patient access survey despite being ‘overloaded’ with swine-flu related work during parts of the year.

Results of the 2009/10 patient access survey show practices' performance in the questions linked to the quality framework has fallen slightly since last year.

But GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said he hoped 'most practices' would benefit from the easement of thresholds for the PE7 and PE8 quality indicators. 

Practices that vaccinate 50.7% or more of their vulnerable patients against swine flu will have their thresholds relaxed.

The results of the 2009/10 survey show 80% of patients were able to see a GP within 48 hours, down slightly from 84% in 2008/9. In addition, 71% of patients could book ahead, compared with 76% in 2008/9.

Overall satisfaction with general practice remains extremely high - 90% of patients were either 'very satisfied' or 'fairly satisfied'.

Dr Buckman said GPs were overload with swine flu or suspected swine flu cases in June and November especially.

'We are therefore not surprised to see the slight dip in the access figures. GPs would obviously like every patient to be happy with the care they receive, but we are pleased that overall nine in ten people remain satisfied with their care.’

The survey in its current form was rolled out in 2008/9, and left some practices facing losses of up to £16,000 compared to the previous year.

Practices with both their uptake figures and patient survey score can calculate how much cash they will receive using this online calculator.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley recently signalled that this could be the final year of the patient survey in its current form. In his first speech since taking office, Mr Lansley said patient access surveys in general practice ‘miss the point of whether patients are doing well'.

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