Access to GP report

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Summary of report content

The aim of this investigation was to look at the publics’ experience in accessing GP appointments. Intelligence was received through its engagement activities and Information & Signposting service indicating that some residents of Middlesbrough were having difficulty making GP appointments. Several groups independently contacted Healthwatch Middlesbrough requesting that we look into this further. Healthwatch Middlesbrough used a mixed method approach to ensure a good overview of the public perception of their experience when making an appointment to see a GP. The survey was conducted over the period of January to March 2015. A Survey Monkey questionnaire was distributed via our website, Facebook, Twitter, Teesside University Staff. A total of 204 surveys were competed of which 50 were completed via the web-link and 154 filled in manually. The survey shows that of those who responded 55.33% found it easy to make an appointment and had a good experience of doing so, 44.67% did not. The main reasons given for the poor experience were: Having to ring the same day to make an appointment is very difficult for working people. Phone lines being constantly busy. No appointments available when people do get through to the surgery. Although the survey shows that of those who responded 55.33% found it easy to make an appointment and had a good experience of doing so, 44.67% did not. Therefore, Healthwatch Middlesbrough recommend the following: 1. Individual GP practices are surveyed to highlight if any difficulties in making an appointment are specific to any individual practices. As this is a general report Healthwatch has taken the decision not to name individual surgeries in this document. 2. Those practices who are performing higher in patient experience in this area share good practice. Healthwatch recommend that the possibility of this being discussed at one of the area “Time Out” sessions be looked into. 3. Providers of GP services explore ways to improve the appointment system to make it more convenient for working people. Perhaps looking at the possibility of “saving” some appointments for face to face appointments, appointments via email and appointments for future dates. 4. The public have a greater understanding and awareness of the appointment system and availability pathways within GP practices. Difficulties in making a GP appointment may be a barrier to some patients in accessing services. Greater promotion of alternative appointments available such as an appointment with a practice nurse may alleviate the pressures on GP appointment availability. Maybe this could be publicised via the TV Information System, leaflets or posters in the surgery. Alternatively perhaps surgery reception staff could offer alternatives when a patient rings for an appointment.

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General details

Report title 
Access to GP report
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Middlesbrough
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 1 April, 2015
Date evidence capture began 
Wednesday, 1 April, 2015
Date evidence capture finished 
Wednesday, 1 April, 2015
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Building and facilities
Waiting time to be seen once arrived at appointment
Waiting times and lists for treatment
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 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

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 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
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.