Access to General Practice in Trafford: a website review

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Trafford decided to assess the information and functionality of GP websites to see if they were accessible during the Covid-19 pandemic. They visited the websites of all 29 local GPs.

Overall, they found a positive picture. They felt that the variety of online information and tools available to patients was impressive. But there was variation between GP practices. The reviewers took between 10 and 90 minutes to complete their reviews, illustrating the ease of use of some websites and the complexity/poor arrangement of others.

Over four in five websites had good or excellent information about COVID-19 including vaccination.  All 29 websites enabled patients to go online to either book a general appointment or request a consultation. However nearly three in five websites offered more than one way to book appointments or check their records, and it wasn’t clear on all websites why this was. No practice websites fulfilled every statutory obligation required by the GP contract and CQC inspection regime.

Two thirds of GP websites had poor or very poor information on flu vaccinations and nearly a quarter had poor or very poor information on how to access medical records and self-care advice

Nearly two in five Trafford GP websites did not share the boundaries of their practice area, and only 34% published information about the requirement to assign an accountable GP to each of its new and existing registered patients. Patient information on making appointments or seeking help out of hours were rated positively, but practices should ensure the arrangements described are still accurate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clear direction is needed for patients who need to cancel appointments – three in ten practices were rated Poor to Very Poor.

The offer for patients who can’t go online needs to be considered; GP communications with patients should ensure they describe other methods of contact or access to information in addition to their website. Where not already in place, written forms of communication should be considered for those who are digitally excluded.

Repeat prescription information was rated highly for most Trafford GP websites, with over 80% rated Good to Excellent.

Information about complaints procedures requires improvement in over a third of GP websites in Trafford. Other routes for patients to share feedback were rated highly, but over 75% websites did not publish the results of the Friends and Family Test. Very few Trafford GP practice websites mention how to share compliments or concerns with Healthwatch Trafford or how to get in touch with us as a source of information or signposting. Although 27 of the 29 GP practices published information about their Patient Participation Groups, most frequently it was simply a mention, with no detail about the function, records of minutes or outcomes, or how to join.

The report contains 6 recommendations to GPs about improving information and the functionality of their website

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General details

Report title 
Access to General Practice in Trafford: a website review
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Trafford
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 20 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 4 January, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 7 March, 2021
Key themes 
Access
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Engagement
Health protection
Information providing
Interpreters
Prescription
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
No
Primary research method used 
Observation
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
N/A

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Not applicable
Age group 
Not known
Gender 
Not known
Ethnicity 
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Not applicable
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not applicable
Does the information include staff's views? 
Not applicable
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 
Not known

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Yes
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
No
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
No
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
 
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
 
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.