GP access measures need reworking, say researchers

GP access measures could be radically overhauled under plans set out in research that will feed into the wide-ranging King's Fund inquiry into the quality of general practice.

A research paper suggests that practices could be assessed on how easy it is for patients to book appointments online
A research paper suggests that practices could be assessed on how easy it is for patients to book appointments online

A research paper published by the think-tank outlines a 23-point access checklist that will pool information from a range of sources, including the NHS Information Centre, Department for Transport and the GP Patient Access Survey.

'The quality of general practice: access to care' says the NHS should consider how services should be provided and where they should be located as technology and patients’ expectations change. It suggests drawing on Department for Transport data to assess what proportion of patients can reach their practice by foot or public transport within 15 minutes.

The report also suggests that practices could be assessed on how easy it is for patients to book appointments on line, and whether patients can communicate directly with GPs or practice staff via email.

The report said, however, that the measures should not be applied in a ‘one size fits all’ way.

Dr David Jenner, NHS Alliance GMS/PMS lead said the proposed access metrics were a ‘very mature and welcome approach’. ‘It is moving away from the artificially imposed and meaningless restraints of factors such as 48-hour access targets.’

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