GP surgery mystery shopping report

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Summary of report content

In December 2020 and January 2021, four Healthwatch Haringey volunteers were tasked with calling all 39 GP surgeries across Haringey to find out how long it could take a potential patient to get through to and speak with a staff member.  They managed to speak to a member of staff at 34 out of 39 surgeries.

On average it took less than five minutes for the volunteer to speak with a staff member where someone answered the phone.  In two cases it took the volunteer 30 minutes before they were able to speak to someone.

Volunteers reported that there were several very long, and confusing, pre-recorded messages which were played even before the phone began to ring. Many pre-recorded messages directed the volunteer to use online booking systems with no clear option to speak with a staff member.

Volunteers were asked to locate the surgeries opening times and contact telephone numbers from each surgeries’ website. The majority of websites were easy to navigate to find this information but there were two websites that were not, and further investigation was needed to find this information

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General details

Report title 
GP surgery mystery shopping report
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Haringey
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 28 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 December, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 31 January, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Information providing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
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 
Not applicable
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? 
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? 
Not applicable
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Not applicable
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not applicable

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.