Review of patients' access to Havering GP practices

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Havering decided to undertake research into access to GPs after hearing from local people that they were experiencing difficulties in contacting their GP and getting a face to face consultation.  A group of Healthwatch volunteers contacted every GP surgery in the borough to gauge patients’ experience of contacting them. They undertook an online survey to which 31 people responded and obtained case studies.

Volunteers recorded a range of times taken to speak to someone at a GP surgery.  Whilst most calls were answered in 5 minutes, one call took 1 hour and 35 minutes before it was answered. Volunteers felt that most receptionists answered the call professionally. 

Only 8 receptionists were able to provide contact details for their surgery’s PPG.  Volunteers asked whether the practices contacted were offering face-to-face consultations:

  • In 18 cases, consultations were available after telephone triage
  • In two cases, consultations were available without triage
  • In four cases, it appeared that consultations were not available – seemingly under any circumstances and with no indication of when they might become available.

The survey data shows that most respondents had a telephone consultation; 23% had an online consultation and 7% went straight to the practice. Most were seen at the practice; only a few were referred to the Emergency Department (ED) at a hospital (7%) or a specialist community service (19%) and 1 person was referred to another GP practice.

Nearly three in ten were able to see a GP, while 16% saw a nurse or midwife and 6% saw another healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist or a podiatrist. Nearly half of respondents were unable, however, to see any HCP.

The majority (75%) of respondents were able to get the help they needed but 14% contacted NHS111 and were referred on by them, 4% went to the ED, another 4% went to a walk-in centre and 4% called 999 for an ambulance. The waiting time between asking for an appointment and attending for it was varied.  People clearly felt frustrated about not being able to see their GP face to face.

The report contains 8 recommendations.

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General details

Report title 
Review of patients' access to Havering GP practices
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Havering
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 7 July, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Saturday, 1 May, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 15 June, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Health promotion
Quality of appointment
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Waiting times and lists for treatment

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
User stories
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 
NHS 111

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? 
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.