Official patient survey data for 2014 published by NHS England and Ipsos Mori show that 85.2% of patients rate their overall experience of their GP surgery as good – down one percentage point since results for 2013, and down 2.4 percentage points since 2012.
A total of 73.8% of patients rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good – down 1.6 percentage points from 2013 and four percentage points since 2012.
For out-of-hours services, patient ratings rose slightly, with 67.9% saying their overall experience of out-of-hours GP services was good – up 0.4 percentage points since 2013, but down 2.9 percentage points from the 2012 score.
Immense pressure on GPs
GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said she was surprised the decline had not been greater given the immense pressure GP practices face.
‘Considering the immense workload and financial pressure GP practices and their staff are under, this very small decline is the result of the hard work practices are putting in.’
She said that considering the ‘cuts we have had in recent years, and the extra 40m consultations’ general practice faces compared with five years ago, she was ‘surprised the decline isn’t greater’.
‘GPs are seeing more patients than ever on a falling budget and the fact patients are still satisfied despite the extreme challenges practices face is a tribute to the hard work of GPs and practice staff,’ said Dr McCarron-Nash.
She warned that the NHS urgently needed to invest more in core GP funding, and to increase the numbers of GPs coming into the workforce to ease the pressure on general practice.