IPQ survey shows few access improvements

Patient satisfaction with practice opening hours has not significantly improved in three years.

Results of the ‘Improving Practice Questionnaire’ (IPQ), a survey which asked 1.2 million patients to rate their surgery, were released after the DoH issued guidance on its access survey.

The IPQ found that satisfaction with opening hours had increased by a mere 0.5 per cent between 2004/5 and 2006/7.

Other areas where there were no significant improvements in three years were seeing a GP/nurse of choice (up 0.9 per cent), ease of telephone access (up 0.6 per cent), length of time waiting in the practice (up 0.9 per cent) and comfort level of the waiting room (up 1.1 per cent).

The report’s authors said that satisfaction with opening hours (up 1.4 per cent) and with the day and time arranged for appointments (up 1.4 per cent) made highly significant improvements in 2006/7 when compared with the previous year.

The authors of the 2006/7 IPQ report, published yesterday, said that standards were already exceptionally high in many areas in 2004, when the survey became part of the GMS contract.

The report’s co-author, Devon GP Dr David Jenner said: ‘Last year everything got better except opening hours, which dipped. Over the three years, there has been no net improvement, but there was a significant improvement in the past year, which we found surprising.’

Dr Jenner added that 66 per cent of patients said they would like to see their practice open one or two evenings a week but they understood that there had to be a trade-off against opening hours for walk-in patients.

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