Accessing GP appointments

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch East Riding of Yorkshire received feedback obtained from local residents about concerns accessing GP appointments, including waiting for three weeks and appointments at times to suit people who work full time.  They carried out engagement across the area and ran a survey.  They received 994 responses to the survey from February up to mid-March 2020.

Most people booked appointments by phone, but many found it difficult to get through to the surgery.  People booking appointments online reported that they usually had to wait 2 – 3 weeks for an appointment.  People who went to the surgery typically reported waiting 1 – 2 weeks for an appointment.  Just over half felt that the time they had to wait for their appointment was acceptable for the concern that they had.

Nearly two thirds found it difficult or very difficult to obtain an appointment – with people reporting they had to wait for upwards of 30 minutes to get through by phone.  Similar issues were reported by people visiting the surgery. 

When asked what was most important to them, people ranked the following issues in this order:

1. Being seen at the earliest possibility

2. Appointments taking place in my own surgery/practice

3. Appointment with a preferred clinician

4. Having an appointment that fits outside of office hours

5. Having a choice in gender of clinician

Public awareness of extended GP access was very limited, but people were willing to use them if they knew about them.  They were less willing to travel to another location.

Half the people surveyed rated the appointments system as poor or very poor.  People suggested access to online appointments, evening and weekend appointments and using trained medical personnel to answer the phone.

There were 4 recommendations about training for reception staff, increasing awareness of extended hours services and expanding the online booking service to include extended hours services.

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General details

Report title 
Accessing GP appointments
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch East Riding of Yorkshire
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 27 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Saturday, 1 February, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Monday, 23 March, 2020
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Information providing
Staff attitudes

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Engagement event
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
Urgent and emergency care services 
Urgent care services

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? 
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.