More than five million patients in England are being asked for their views on how to improve family doctor services in a new survey launched by the government.
Results from the national survey will be used to drive changes to GP services and rewards for GPs who provide fast, convenient services.
This is the third year the Department of Health has run the GP patient survey, which focuses on patients’ experiences of visiting a GP.
In last year’s survey patients called for quicker access to GP appointments. In response to this over half of all GP practices now offer extended opening hours making it easier for patients to get appointments at times that suit them.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said: “The national GP patient survey last year gave five million people a chance to have their say on improving access to their GP. The NHS listened and responded, and now over half of GP practices are making it easier for their patients to book appointments later in the evening, earlier in the morning or at the weekend.
“This new survey with wider questions, will ensure patients can have their say about the issues that matter most to them. Where patients identify areas for improvement, the local NHS will need to respond.
“I hope everyone who receives a questionnaire will take the time to fill it in and help to drive improvements in healthcare by giving us an accurate picture of patients’ experiences of local GP services.”
The survey now includes more questions to find out if GP practices are getting the basics right for their patients – whether patients find receptionists helpful, have the option of telephone consultations, feel their problem is understood and how they rate the overall care they receive. Patients are also asked to rate local out of hours care to ensure health care is easily accessible when patients need it.
Patients’ answers will continue to set the level of payments made to their GP practice for delivering access to GP appointments in two working days and for booking appointments in advance.
The expanded survey also means the local NHS can link GP pay more closely to their patients’ views if this will improve care for patients.