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'Outstanding' GP practices understand their patients' needs

A new report has found that general practices with the highest ratings for quality and safety are proactive about understanding the needs of their patients.

'The state of care in general practice 2014 to 2017' published by the Care Quality Commission provides a detailed analysis of the quality and safety of general medical practice in England. 

Based on inspections by CQC, the report found that the majority (86%) of general practice services were rated as ‘good’, with 4% rated as ‘outstanding’. 

What factors make an ‘outstanding’ general practice?

The report found that practices with the highest ratings showed a clear knowledge of the different needs of their patient groups, and that they also had strong leadership. 

These services understood their patients and their needs, and responded by adapting services. Practices that provide high-quality care also demonstrated that they  engage their patients proactively by ‘including them in the conversation’ and acting on feedback, complaints and concerns. 

General practices with the highest ratings also demonstrate strong leadership, understand everyone’s responsibilities in the practice team and recognise the importance of working as part of their wider local health economies. 

Patients willing to share views but need to know how

The CQC report comes after research from Healthwatch England found that the majority of people are interested in sharing their feedback with GPs to improve services but only a minority had done so. The most common reason for this was that patients were unsure how to provide comments and raise concerns. 

As part of our #ItStartsWithYou campaign, we have called on GP practices to encourage people to share their views, and to let them know the simple ways in which they can do so, including speaking to their local Healthwatch. 

Commenting on the CQC report into the state of care in General Practice, National Director of Healthwatch England, Imelda Redmond said:

“GPs are the frontline of the NHS, so it is encouraging to see most practices coping well with current pressures and continuing to provide their patients with good quality care.

“There is still variation in places, but as the CQC’s report underlines, one of the best ways practices can improve is to welcome and recognise the importance of patient feedback. This includes dealing with people’s complaints compassionately and learning from when things go wrong.  

“We know that people are keen to share their comments and ideas with their GPs, but most don’t know how. But by keeping it simple, through the use of private and more personal channels such as comment boxes and follow-up text messages, practice staff can make it easy to share feedback and send a strong signal to patients that they are willing to listen. 

"Healthwatch is here to help busy surgeries not only improve how they engage with their patients but also help GPs and practice managers explain how this insight is being used to give people the care they want.”


The more that people share their ideas, experiences and concerns about NHS and social care, the more services can understand when improvements are needed. But, to make the biggest difference, we need to hear from more people.

You can make a difference. Find out more about our #ItStartsWithYou campaign or share your experience with your local Healthwatch and help make services better for your community. It starts with you.

Find your local Healthwatch