Access to primary care - GP surgeries in Somerset: What local people told us

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Somerset undertook research about accessing appointments at GP surgeries as this issue came up in other research and their feedback. They produced a digital survey that was open for one month and aimed to talk directly to people at one GP surgery for each of the 13 Primary Care Networks in Somerset during this time. There were 355 responses to the survey.

Seven in ten people booked their appointments over the phone, with the next most popular booking method being face-to-face.  Most respondents said the booking process worked well.

When asked: “What could be done to improve your experience of booking an appointment?” the most popular response was an increase in appointment availability.

A significant number of people we spoke to were not satisfied with the length of time it took to answer the phone when they called the surgery.

Some people like to see the same GP at each visit because of the personal relationship they have created. This is particularly so for those with mental health issues. Some respondents were prepared to wait longer for an appointment in order to see their preferred GP.

 Some people were not comfortable being triaged by reception staff.

Many people who were satisfied with their continuity of care were seen by the same medical professional.

The report contains three recommendations about increasing appointment availability and call waiting time, increasing information about social prescribing and working people who have long-term conditions to see how continuity of care could be improved.

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General details

Report title 
Access to primary care - GP surgeries in Somerset: What local people told us
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Somerset
Date of publication 
Friday, 30 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Thursday, 13 February, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 13 March, 2020
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Continuity of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Waiting times and lists for treatment

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 about conditions and diseases

What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
All people 18 and over
Sexual orientation 
Not known
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? 
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? 
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.