Access to GP services

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch County Durham undertook mystery shopping into the information on 59 GP websites in the county and about the content of automated telephone messages of 77 GP services.

Nearly nine in ten websites provided current Covid-19 advice, but less than half were up to date.  Nearly 3 in 5 had a link to the NHS Covid-19 advice site.  They found a wide variety of presentation styles and the type and quality of information provided.

All GP practices who were phoned out of hours included advice on general health matters.  Only two provided information on how to cancel an appointment or referred patients to the online booking systems.

Over half didn’t include information on how to get an appointment with a GP.  Eight percent of the automated messages were complex or difficult to understand.  Apart from providing information on opening hours and accessing the practice website, there was very little information on how to get an appointment with a health professional other than a GP.

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General details

Report title 
Access to GP services
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch County Durham
Date of publication 
Friday, 14 May, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 1 January, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 28 February, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Health protection
Information providing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
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 
Not applicable
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? 
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? 
Not applicable
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Not applicable
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not applicable

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.