GP Access patient experience, Hartlepool

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Summary of report content

In November 2017, Healthwatch Hartlepool conducted a review of patient experience of accessing GP appointments. Initially Healthwatch Hartlepool conducted an online survey, and in January and February 2018 they also also conducted visits to individual surgeries. During the visits patients were given the opportunity to complete the questionnaire while waiting for their appointment or could take it home and return it in the stamped addressed envelope provided. All GP practices in Hartlepool were contacted and five surgeries allowed Healthwatch Hartlepool to visit the practice in to speak directly to patients about their experiences. The survey found that experiences of appointment systems and the ease with which appointments can be booked varied greatly from practice to practice with some patients experiencing unacceptable difficulties when attempting to book an appointment. The most positive feedback from the highest rated practice in the survey, where all eighteen patients who completed the questionnaire rated their experience of making appointments as very good or fairly good, was in marked contrast to the poorest practice where eleven out of seventeen of the patients who completed the questionnaire rated their experience of making appointments as fairly poor or very poor. Healthwatch Hartlepool found that some patients had experienced waited on hold for up to an hour before being able to speak to a member of staff about booking an appointment and that having to call between 8am and 9am to make an appointment impacted on those patients who work, or who have caring responsibilities. The survey also revealed that awareness and/ or uptake of on-line booking services and the 111 service was low and in most practices the majority of patients relied on the telephone in order to make appointments. Accessibility problems were highlighted at some practices by wheelchair users, patients with poor mobility and parents with young children in prams or pushchairs. However, patient feedback on their experience during consultations with either their GP or Nurse practitioner was very good. Appointments generally happened reasonably close to the given time and advice and treatment were generally considered to be of high quality. Healthwatch Hartlepool made recommendations in the report which included asking that: all practices regularly review their appointment systems with a view to ensuring that current practices are fit for purpose and patients are able to access appointments in a timely and convenient manner; those practices at which patient feedback indicated significant levels of dissatisfaction with current systems for booking appointments should undertake immediate reviews of their current processes which include rigorous and thorough analysis of patient experience; that the potential for more use of on-line booking services should be further explored as part of an overall practice appointments strategy which embrace a variety of booking methods and that; all practices should do more to raise awareness amongst patients of the availability of on-line booking options and the option of booking via the 111 non-emergency service. The report does not state who the report and recommendations have been sent to and no provider response is included.

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General details

Report title 
GP Access patient experience, Hartlepool
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Hartlepool
Date of publication 
Thursday, 1 March, 2018
Date evidence capture began 
Wednesday, 1 November, 2017
Date evidence capture finished 
Wednesday, 28 February, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Building and facilities
Car parking access
Car parking charges
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Health promotion
Health protection
Information providing
Quality of appointment
Staff training
Waiting times and lists for treatment
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
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
NHS 111

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Types of long term conditions 
Not known
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 
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
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? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
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? 

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.