NHS survey says nine out of 10 patients have ‘confidence and trust’ in general practice staff

Nine out of 10 patients have “confidence and trust” in their family doctor as well as other general practice staff such as nurses and pharmacists, according to new research.

Patients rate their overall experience of their family doctor highly, with four out of five saying their GP treats them with “care and concern” and provides them with enough time to listen to their needs.

With patient choice a priority the NHS Long Term Plan, nine out of 10 patients felt involved in decisions about their care, while seven in 10 rated their overall experience of making a GP appointment as “good”, the GP patient survey shows.

Dr Nikita Kanani, acting director of primary care for NHS England, said: “Family doctors in England see nearly one million people every day and this survey shows they appreciate the fantastic job they do alongside other practice staff such as nurses and pharmacists.”

However, GPs continue to face pressure and increasing demand and while seven in 10 patients were satisfied with the appointment they were offered, some patients were waiting longer than they would have liked to see their GP.

Dr Kanani will chair a new review of access to general practice across England this year. She said: “We will look at making improvements to pre-bookable and same day GP appointments, reviewing patient feedback on face-to-face and online consultations, delivering greater choice and access to appropriate care for patients.”

From 2021, all patients will also have a new right to access their general practice through video consultations.

Rising numbers of patients are booking online, with 15% using GP websites to get an appointment, up 2 percentage points on the previous year. The rise has come alongside growing awareness of the service with 44% knowing that they can book online, up 3 percentage points.

Dr Kanani said: “We are now putting record funding into primary and community care, with an additional £4.5billion of added investment by 2023-24 to help drive improvements in care.”

The extra investment will pave the way for the recruitment of 20,000 more specialist healthcare workers and professionals over the next five years to support general practice.

Dr Kanani said: “Increasingly, patients will see their general practices bolstered by teams of health professionals such as social prescribers, pharmacists and therapists, as well as clinical nurses, physician associates and community paramedics, who will give them the specialist care they need, while freeing up family doctors to care for the sickest people. As we deliver the NHS Long Term Plan, we will further build on this success.”

While patients’ overall satisfaction with the service they received from their practice has dipped slightly, the survey covers a period before the NHS fully rolled out evening and weekend GP appointments across the whole of England. These services are now providing nine million more appointments a year at times more convenient to patients and the survey shows patients are more aware of the availability of appointment times outside traditional hours.

The survey findings come jafter Primary Care Networks officially launched across England, with GP practices large and small working to support each other while also offering better services closer to home for patients. And this is on top of the commitment to recruit, retain and train thousands more family doctors.

The GP Patient Survey 2019 compiled responses from 770,512 people across the country on their experience of the services provided by GP practices, including access to GPs, making appointments, quality of care received from GPs and other health professionals, waiting times, and satisfaction with opening hours and out-of-hours NHS services.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 82.9% described the overall experience of their GP practice as good.
  • 67.4% of patients rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good
  • Of everyone who wanted a same day appointment, 62.1% got one
  • Of those who have a preferred GP, around half (48%) said that they see or speak to them always, almost always, or a lot of the time
  • 73.6% were satisfied with the appointment they were offered
  • 77% of patients who have tried to use their GP practice website found it easy to access information or services
  • 69.5% waited less than 15 minutes to be seen following their appointment time
  • Almost seven in ten patients (69,5%) reported a good experience of NHS services when they wanted to see a GP but their GP practice was closed
  • 91.1% of patients had confidence and trust in the people they saw or spoke to when their GP practice was closed.