Almost one in five patients are forced to wait a week or more to see a GP, the latest GP Patient Survey results have revealed.
As the debate over whether GP services should be available seven days a week rages on, the survey also found that while 18% of patients waited a week for an appointment, one in ten (11 percent) were unable to arrange one at all when they last tried.
Seventy-five percent of respondents are satisfied with their practice’s opening hours – although this has declined from 80 percent since 2012. For those who didn’t think their surgery’s opening hours were convenient, Saturday opening or appointments after 6:30 were the most preferred options (73 percent and 70 percent respectively).
Nevertheless 85 percent of patients rated their overall experience of their GP surgery as good, with 43 percent saying it was very good, and ninety-five percent of patients said they had confidence and trust in their GP. Meanwhile, nearly two in five patients (38 percent) were able to see someone on the same day as contacting their surgery, and one in ten saw someone on the next working say.
Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, from the Royal College of GPs, said: “Over 91% of patients have trust and confidence in their family doctor – as a profession, that is truly something that we should be very proud of, particularly against a backdrop of such intense resource and workforce pressures.
“However, the GP Patient Survey results continue to highlight the growing difficulty that our patients are facing when trying to make a GP appointment and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“Patients should be able to make an appointment to see their GP or practice nurse when they are sick, and often this is not something that can be predicted a week or more in advance.
“GPs and our teams are making 370m patient consultations a year – 60m more than five years ago – yet the resources we have available to us have been decreasing and the number of family doctors has remained relatively stagnant. So, the difficulty patients are facing in making an appointment is not because we are providing fewer of them.”
The GP Patient Survey receives around 850,000 responses each year, and results are made available every six months.