Patient satisfaction with GPs rising despite workload crisis

GPs continued to have the highest satisfaction ratings in the NHS in 2016, with approval ratings rising slightly to 72% this year in the face of growing workforce and workload pressures.

Satisfaction with GP services stands at 72%, higher than for any other NHS service despite the increasing pressures dealt with by the profession, a King’s Fund survey has found.

Findings from its British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research last year, show that 63% of people were satisfied with the NHS as a whole.

It shows that the public’s perception of the NHS has remained steady over the last year.

GP services have historically had higher satisfaction ratings than other NHS services. In 2016, satisfaction with GPs rose slightly from 69% to 72%, although the King’s Fund points out that this was not a statistically significant change.

It ends a gradual declining trend in GP satisfaction that has run since 2010.

The King’s Fund suggested that the public’s familiarity with the service coupled with ‘the more personal nature of their relationship with their GP’ may be driving its high satisfaction rates.

It comes in the face of GPs facing mounting crises on multiple fronts. The latest workforce figures show full-time numbers of GPs dropped by more than 400 in just three months.

The independent doctors and dentists review body (DDRB) recently warned that it is 'unclear' how GP services can be maintained over the coming years given the growing GP workforce crisis.

Social care had the lowest performance, with only 26% of respondents indicating they were satisfied with services.

GP satisfaction

Satisfaction with outpatient services was 68% and 60% for inpatient services. Satisfaction with A&E services stood at 54%.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said: ‘The NHS is one of the best health services in the world, but with the main areas of dissatisfaction around waiting times, staff shortages and lack of funding it is clear that the public know all too well that the health service is under ever greater pressure and is at breaking point.

‘The NHS remains under enormous pressure and patients deserve more than sticking-plaster measures for such a vital public service. The government should bring spending on health in line with other leading European economies and produce a long-term strategy that addresses the fundamental workload and funding challenges that are overwhelming our health service.’

Ruth Robertson, policy fellow at The King’s Fund, said: ‘The survey findings demonstrate the high value the British public place on the quality of care provided by the NHS and how they cherish the availability of a comprehensive service that is free at the point of use.

‘It’s unsurprising that dissatisfaction with the NHS is mostly driven by waiting times, staff shortages, and underfunding, as the NHS is facing severe financial pressures.’

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