Patient survey scores likely to fall for England's practices in 2009/10

Results of the third quarterly patient survey for 2009/10 suggest GP practice scores are likely to fall this year.

After three quarterly surveys, results that inform the PE7 and PE8 sections of the QOF are lower than the disastrous 2008/9 results, which saw thousands of practices lose money.

But losses may be less severe this year if practices hit swine flu vaccination targets, triggering a reduction in patient experience indicator thresholds.

Practices must vaccinate 50.7 per cent of 'at-risk' patients. In January, just 39 per cent of at-risk patients in England had been vaccinated. Data suggest 51 per cent of patients in Scotland have received the jab.

In the third quarter of the 2009/10 survey, 80 per cent of patients were able to see a GP within 48 hours, down slightly from 84 per cent in 2008/9.

Seventy-one per cent of patients could book ahead, compared with 76 per cent in 2008/9.

Overall satisfaction with general practice remains extremely high - 90 per cent of patients were either 'very satisfied' or 'fairly satisfied'.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said satisfaction with general practice was 'way in excess' of other public services and questioned the value of the survey as NHS finances are tightened.

'It shows you get the same answer no matter how many times or ways you ask the question,' he said.

Figures are likely to fluctuate when final quarter results are added, the DoH said.


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