Summary of report content
Healthwatch Wiltshire undertook research into access to GP services, as this was a priority for them in 2019. They visited a range of GP surgeries across Wiltshire during daytime, evening and weekend hours and interviewed 173 patients, carried out a mystery shopping exercise of 14 surgeries and surveyed 85 GP practice staff.
They found that access to evening and weekend appointments are valued by patients. Overall there was a greater preference from patients for early morning or evening appointments as opposed to weekend ones. Most patients said that they would be happy to see a nurse, paramedic or pharmacist where appropriate. There seemed to be increased awareness and confidence in the triaging process. Three in five of the people we spoke to said that they would consider travelling to be seen at another surgery in some circumstances. However, there was concern that those who are unable to travel should not be disadvantaged.
Improved Access appointments were used and managed in a range of different ways by different surgeries. Surgery staff were not clear about what Improved Access appointments were available at other surgeries and some reported difficulties booking these. Staff thought that the Improved Access Service had improved access for patients, but their views whether it was a good use of their time was more mixed. The people they spoke to reported high levels of satisfaction with the treatment they received at appointments.
The report concludes that access to out of hours appointments is something that is valued by patients and should continue. There were 9 recommendations which mostly concern the implementation of the Improved Access Service and are based on the views of patients and staff.