Carers' experiences of accessing GP services

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Sheffield undertook research about carers’ access to GP services, as research has found that carers have a less positive experience of visiting their GP compared to people who are not carers.  They spoke to 160 carers during the period December 2019 to early March 2020.

The average age of participants was 46 years with the youngest respondent aged under 10 and the oldest aged over 80. The majority were women and 19% were men. Around 10 people were from minority ethnic backgrounds. The majority lived with the person they care for. A third cared for someone under 25.

Carers felt that they were not acknowledged and not supported by their GP, unless they put in the effort. Nearly half of survey respondents had seen information for carers on display in surgeries but it was suggested that more information needs to be made available. Only 16% were informed about their rights to a carer’s needs assessment or young carer’s assessment. Less than a quarter were offered information about other support services that can help them.

Less than a fifth were offered regular health checks. Only 18% were asked about their mental wellbeing. Just under a quarter were offered referrals to other support services that could help them. Only about a third were offered flexibility with appointment times working around their caring role. Around a quarter were given options on how to access support when they can’t get to the surgery because of their caring role (e.g. home visits or telephone consultations).

Less than a third of survey respondents felt that they had time to talk about their needs. A number of people called for a more compassionate attitude from staff.

Three in five carers were involved in discussions about the healthcare of the person they care for: However, some called for improving how carers are involved:

Young carers were not always recognised for their role: They felt staff could be more proactive in identifying young carers.

There is a gap in support for parent carers.  They also felt that there was a lack of consistency by services as to when consent was sought from the person who was cared for. 

The report concludes with a list of the good things that GPs do to support carers and 5 recommendations to address the findings of this report.

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General details

Report title 
Carers' experiences of accessing GP services
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Sheffield
Date of publication 
Thursday, 19 November, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 1 December, 2019
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 15 March, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Information providing
Quality of appointment
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Other information of note about this report 
Young Carers
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Focus group
User stories
How was the information collected? 
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 
Age group 
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? 
Does the information include other people'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.