Summary of report content
Healthwatch Salford identified that access to GP appointments was the most important issue to local people. They undertook a survey to which 431 people responded, held engagement events at 3 GP surgeries and surveyed 18 practice managers to understand their experience. The research looked at:
- the experience of the patient making and getting to the appointment
- the reasons why patients miss appointments
- the profile of the surgery from the practice manager’s point of view
- 64% of them had made an appointment to see a medical professional within the last month. 78% of them made the appointment to see a doctor with the other 22% requesting to see a practice nurse or other healthcare professional. 37% of the patients classed their appointment as ‘urgent’ with the remaining 63% saying their appointment was more routine.
- 68% of people used the phone to make an appointment and 21% made the appointment face to face. Of those people who phoned for an appointment, 55% said that the phone was answered the first time they called. 53% said they felt comfortable telling surgery staff the reasons for their appointment.
- If they couldn’t get the appointment they wanted, the majority would try with the surgery the following day or would accept the appointment that was offered after going through various options.
- 50% of people said they received text reminders of their appointment
- 58% of people felt that the whole process of making an appointment was easy
- 40% of people were aware of the extended access to GP services scheme in Salford. All 18 GP surgeries that responded to the survey reported that they had promoted it
- 49% of people were in full time employment. A third of these said that they found the process of getting an appointment difficult. 41% of these had heard of the extended access scheme with only 10% reporting that they had actually used it.
- 86% of patients at one surgery that used a telephone triage system felt it was easy to get an appointment
- 9% of people needed assistance at their appointment, including interpreters
- 55% of people said that their appointments were on time.
- 90% of patients felt that they had enough time to discuss everything in their appointment
- 70% of patients were happy with their GP practice and would recommend it to others.
- 56 patients had missed an appointment in the past. The main reason for not attending was that they had forgotten about it.
- Practices should give patients an explanation when they first contact the surgery so that they understand why they might be asked for some personal information by the reception team
- Awareness of the Salford Wide Extended Access Pilot (SWEAP) needs to be improved for both staff and patients to access alternative appointments when they are unable to attend appointments through the day owing to work or other caring responsibilities
- Surgeries should consider the possibility of a trial project for a telephone triage system to enable more face to face appointments being freed up when simple concerns can often be dealt with over the phone by the GP.
- Surgeries should consider the possibility of a trial project for releasing appointments at staggered times throughout the day
- GP practices should provide customer service training for frontline staff so that they can better deal with challenging patients
- Surgeries should improve on patient confidentiality, ensuring conversations at the main desk cannot be overheard by other patients
- Salford CCG and NHS England should investigate possible operational issues where patients who require longer appointments to accommodate BSL or other interpretation services, feel their needs are not being met
- Surgeries should improve on the experience of those patients with learning or communication difficulties by training all staff in the use of the ‘Engagement Packs’ that were provided by the Health Focus Group