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Improving access to GP care in Gloucestershire

by | Sep 27, 2022 | Healthwatch Gloucestershire, Local Healthwatch

New report shows patients want clear communication, a choice of consultation methods, and personalised joined-up care.

In a new report out today, Healthwatch Gloucestershire shines a spotlight on people’s experiences of accessing care through their GP, highlighting communication, choice of consultation methods, and personalised joined-up care, as key areas for improvement.

This new report follows on from Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s February 2021 report which reviewed feedback from over 600 people. At that time, Healthwatch Gloucestershire advised GP practices to think more about their patients’ individual needs when communicating and interacting with them, noting that digital and remote ways of delivering care present challenges and barriers for many patients.

As access to GPs continues to be of widespread concern locally and nationally, and it is the biggest source of public feedback across the Healthwatch network, Healthwatch Gloucestershire decided to take another look at the issue. They wanted to see how people feel about their GP practices and find out if improvements have been made around access to GP care in Gloucestershire.

Healthwatch Gloucestershire reviewed feedback from 175 people received since February 2021, looked at 571 online reviews of Gloucestershire GPs, and they drew on the Gloucestershire results from the NHS GP Patient Annual Survey 2021. They compared their findings with earlier research and are advising Gloucestershire NHS, once again, how GP services can improve to better meet patient’s needs.

Key findings

  • People’s overall perception of GPs has improved since Feb 2021; they appreciate the challenges and success of the vaccine rollout through primary care providers.
  • GP care remains patchy and there is a feeling that GP satisfaction is better in some areas of Gloucestershire than others.
  • People want choice about how to contact or be consulted by their GP.
  • Digitalisation of care and remote consultation processes do not work well for everyone.
  • There is a lack of clarity about the window of time when people will get a call back or telephone consultation from their GP practice and this causes frustration.
  • People do not like to feel that their care is disjointed, that they are looked at one symptom at a time or as a tick box exercise.
  • People feel the pressures on staff has worsened their attitudes towards patients and this limits the quality of care received.

Read the new report: Accessing care through GP Practices in Gloucestershire (September 2022), and read the February 2021 report.

Helen Webb, Healthwatch Gloucestershire Manager, said: “Public concern around access to GPs is long standing and the situation was made significantly worse during the pandemic as GPs struggled to manage risk and meet patient demand. Healthwatch has worked locally and nationally to raise the issue with the NHS, and to build understanding of how to improve access to quality care for everyone. In this report we are recommending, once again, the need for clear communication with patients, a range of consultation and communication methods, and more joined up, compassionate and patient centred care. We are now working on a project to examine digital exclusion in more depth and will be seeking public feedback in the autumn.”

Commenting on the report, Becky Parish, Associate Director, Engagement and Experience, One Gloucestershire (NHS Integrated Care System) said: “It is clear from the feedback that for some patients accessing support from their GP practice using digital options is challenging for a variety of reasons; whilst for others we have found that online services have improved their access to services. The NHS’s fast response to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that many services had to move online quickly. Across Gloucestershire throughout the past two years, alongside the online options, we have maintained analogue and face-to-face options for patients where possible and clinically appropriate.”

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