Accessing an appointment at a GP surgery in Salford

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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

Findings

  • 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.

Recommendations

  • 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

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General details

Report title 
Accessing an appointment at a GP surgery in Salford
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Salford
Date of publication 
Thursday, 5 December, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Saturday, 1 December, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 31 January, 2019
Type of report 
Report
Key themes 
Access
Administration
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Interpreters
Quality of appointment
Staff attitudes
Waiting time to be seen once arrived at appointment
Healthwatch reference number 
Rep-5060

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
No
Primary research method used 
Engagement event
Survey
How was the information collected? 
Survey
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
N/A

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 
N/A

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
449
Age group 
All people 18 and over
Gender 
All
Ethnicity 
All
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Yes
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Yes
Does the information include staff's views? 
Yes
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Administrative
Service manager
Does the information include other people's views? 
Not known
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 
Mixed

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Yes
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Yes
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible impact (not cost related)

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.