Watchdog backs GPs over access

The Healthcare Commission wrote to the Daily Telegraph last week to complain that it inaccurately exaggerated GP access problems.

The newspaper had reported that two-thirds of patients would not book an appointment with their GP within 48 hours. 'Millions of people are being failed by their surgeries,' it said.

But Sir Ian Kennedy, the watchdog's chairman, wrote to the paper to clarify that 'our assessment does not show that two-thirds of patients cannot access a GP within 48 hours.'

Two-thirds of PCTs have practices that do not meet the target, he explained. But the problem affects only 13 per cent of patients overall.

The Healthcare Commission's 'NHS health check' for 2007/8 found there had been a steady improvement in both clinical and financial performance in most NHS trusts.

While it highlighted a 'dramatic decline' in the number of PCTs meeting a target for access to a GP from 80 per cent in 2006/7 to 31 per cent in 2007/8, it said the disparity was partly due to a change in its methodology.

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