Hanging on: a report on GP phone access for Reading people during Spring 2021Download (PDF 1.2MB)
Summary of report content
This report sets out the findings of a survey conducted by Healthwatch Reading, which aimed to find out what was happening when local people phoned their doctor’s surgery during the latter stages of England’s third Covid lockdown.
The survey was answered by 339 people, mostly Reading residents. Their responses show more than half found phoning their GP surgery difficult, with the majority of negative experiences reported by people living south of the river. HW Reading received many comments of frustration about phone systems as well as some case studies about barriers to face-to-face appointments with GPs that affected people’s health. A smaller number of people fear that Covid is being used as an excuse to normalise phone-only access to doctors.
HW Reading also received positive comments about certain practices, praising polite and helpful staff and ‘amazing’ doctors and clinical care.
As the success of the Covid vaccination programme helps open up society, Healthwatch Reading is recommending that GP services start offering more face-to-face appointments and open up access routes such as online booking for routine appointments in advance. If changed ways of working are to become permanent, these need to be communicated clearly to the public to help reframe the relationship between doctors and patients in a post-lockdown world.