The GP Patient Survey (GPPS) was developed in 2008, combining the previous QOF and GPAQ patient questionnaires and designed to gauge patient satisfaction, allowing practices to understand how they are doing so they can optimise patient care.
The survey covers:
Access to a GP
Waiting times in the surgery
The ability to choose a GP
Communication skills of doctors and nurses
Out of hours care
A summary of GP Patient Survey results for 2019
The good news is the overwhelming majority of patients (more than 80%) are satisfied with the care they receive. 96% of patients across general practices trusted and had confidence in the healthcare professional they saw at their last appointment. This is testament to the work GPs, nurses and practice support staff do to deliver care in sometimes challenging circumstances.
These figures have remained largely stable year-on-year.
Room for improvement
Although still in the majority, the number of respondents who had a positive experience being able to access the surgery in the first instance, and being able to secure an appointment in a timely manner, is significantly lower than their satisfaction with the care they have received once at the surgery.
68% found it easy to access the surgery by telephone, with the same figure happy with the appointment they were given, and again for overall satisfaction with making an appointment. These numbers have decreased year-on-year - 70% were satisfied in 2017 and 81% were satisfied in 2012. This suggests that while the care provided in the surgery is good there may be fewer clinicians available to meet patient demand.
What can practices do to increase these levels of satisfaction on the GP patient survey?
1. Enlist locum support
There are plans to introduce a more varied mixture of healthcare professionals to general practices, such as pharmacists and paramedics with practice training, in order to alleviate some of the reliance on GPs. This should go some way to help stretched resources however for the meantime filling any rota gaps with locum staff will mean patients can be seen more quickly.
2. Use agency nurses
Locum doesn’t always have to mean GPs. An agency nurse is the term usually used for locum practice nurses. Greater numbers of nurses may help alleviate pressures on GPs, as many can see to minor ailments, blood tests and so on.
3. Enlist online resources
Some patients describe difficulty getting an appointment in the first place which suggests a lack of resources for frontline support staff.
Very few patients book appointments online (14%), suggesting there is room to move away from reliance on telephone access alone. Steering patients towards using an online booking system already in place, or setting one up if there isn’t one, may help improve the levels of satisfaction when it comes to being able to secure an appointment in the first place.
Overall, patients are happy with general practice providers, with their experience of the surgery overall and with the care they receive when once there. This is encouraging in a sector where resources can be limited and GP and practice nurse workloads are often over-stretched.
There is room for improvement when it comes to accessing surgeries for appointments – making the appointment in the first place and being able to get a convenient slot. This may be alleviated by increasing headcount and or locum staff, and utilising technology to book appointments.
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