Access to GP appointment systems

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch County Durham carried out a survey, engagement activities and Enter and View visits in 2018 to gather people's views on their experiences of making appointments to see their GP where Triage or Care Navigation systems were in place. This work was done as issues with GP appointments were one of the most common signposting enquiries received by Healthwatch County Durham and there were changes taking place with appointment systems in the area. The results of a survey by Healthwatch County Durham also confirmed that this topic was important to the public for further investigation. The report identifies that systems that involved making telephone calls for appointments seemed to cause some of the biggest concerns for people due to problems getting through to the surgery, particularly at peak times. Triage systems introduced by some surgeries seemed to be well-received by people who had accessed them. The Care Navigation system adopted by all the practices in County Durham was still in the early stages of implementation and there were mixed responses to it - a significant number of people did not know about the system yet, and some people had concerns about privacy and confidentiality. During the Enter and View visits most people were happy with the appointment systems at their surgeries, however negative comments were noted about the length of time taken for calls to be answered at the surgery and the availability of appointments. Based on these activities, the report provides seven observations for GP practices to consider surrounding: confidentiality in both reception areas and on the telephone; accessibility of the reception area; practice opening hours; information provided to people whilst they are on hold or in a telephone queue; information about Care Navigation; provision of Triage systems; and the content and accessibility of practices' websites, including information about making compliments, comments and complaints.

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General details

Report title 
Access to GP appointment systems
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch County Durham
Date of publication 
Thursday, 1 November, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Staff training
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
Engagement event
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
Not Known

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 
Age group 
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

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.