More than eight in 10 patients rate their GP practice as 'good' overall

Overall patient satisfaction with GPs remains high despite warnings that the profession is close to collapse, with 84% of patients rating their overall experience of general practice as 'good'.

Survey (Photo: iStock.com/AndreyPopov)
Survey (Photo: iStock.com/AndreyPopov)

The annual GP patient survey carried out by the NHS and pollsters Ipsos Mori reported a string of positive findings for the profession. The key findings include:

  • 83.8% of patients described the overall experience of their GP surgery as good.
  • 93.5% of patients felt involved in decisions about their care and treatment.
  • 87.4% felt their healthcare professional was good at treating them.
  • 95.6% had confidence and trust in their GP.
  • 94.8% felt their health professional met their needs.

In June this year, GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told the BMA's annual conference that general practice was 'at serious risk of collapse' amid rising workload pressure, record numbers of practice closures and soaring workload.

GP quality

However, despite extreme pressure nine out of 10 GP practices are rated good or outstanding by the CQC, and the latest national patient survey provides further evidence that practices are maintaining strong performance overall.

NHS England says the 2018 survey findings cannot be compared with previous years because of changes in methodology and the inclusion of 16- and 17-year-old patients for the first time. Data from more than 760,000 patients fed into the findings.

Acting director of primary care for NHS England Dr Nikita Kanani said: 'General practice is the foundation of the NHS and this survey shows patients appreciate the fantastic job GPs and the wider primary care work force are doing in times of real pressure, helping more people living with increasingly complex conditions.

Primary care funding

'We are already putting record funding into primary care after years of underinvestment, with an additional £2.4bn every year by 2020 to help drive improvements in care, including widening access with more GPs are in training than ever before - a record 3,157 began their studies last year. As we develop a long-term plan for the NHS, we will look to further build on these successes and this critical foundation.'

The survey also found that 68.6% of patients rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good, while two thirds of patients who wanted a same-day appointment were able to secure one.

Half of patients who have a preferred GP are able to see that GP 'a lot of the time, almost always or always', and 68.7% of patients said their experience of general practice was good when their practice was closed.

Around 62% of patients were offered an appointment at the time they wanted or sooner, and seven in 10 say it is very or fairly easy to get through to their GP surgery by telephone.

Patient satisfaction

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'These results show that the overwhelming majority of the public are happy with the care they receive from their GP and the healthcare professionals at their local surgeries. They are further testament to the hard work of dedicated family doctors and their teams who continue to provide an excellent standard of care despite the huge and growing pressures they face.

'That trust and confidence in GPs remain high is down to the strong direct relationship between doctors and patients, built up over many years of commitment, working in both smaller and larger practices but crucially always embedded in the local community.

'However the survey also shows that patients are having to wait longer for appointments and are often unable to see their preferred doctor, and this causes understandable frustration for both patients and GPs alike.

'Practices do not have the resources to meet the ever increasing demands of a growing population and despite how much the public values general practice, and the high standards of personalised, holistic care provided, without an urgent investment and action from the government and policymakers, the future of the GP practice remains at risk.'

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: 'GPs and our teams are performing well, in the best interests of patients, in incredibly difficult circumstances. Our workload has escalated in recent years, both in volume and complexity, but the share of the NHS budget our service receives is less than it was a decade ago, and GP numbers are falling.'

She also acknowledged some patients were waiting too long for appointments, but said without more GPs, the profession simply did not have the capacity to offer more appointments.

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