Outcome of the 2021 GP Patient survey

On 8 July NHS England announced the results of the 2021 GP Patient Survey, which provides insights on patients’ experience of primary care services, including access to these services.

According to NHS England, 2.41 million postal questionnaires were sent to adults registered with GP practices in England from January 2021 to the end of March 2021. Approximately 850,000 patients completed and returned a questionnaire, resulting in a national response rate of 35.3%.

The questionnaire, which was redeveloped this year to take into account the pandemic, found that:

• 42.3% said they had avoided making an appointment in the past 12 months.
• 19.8% had done so because they were worried about the burden on the NHS.
• 17.3% avoided making an appointment because they were worried about the risk of catching COVID-19.

Of those who did make an appointment:

• 49.5% said they had a remote appointment (telephone or online) when they last tried to make one for themselves or someone else, an increase of 39.5 percentage points compared with 2020 (10.0%).
• 50.5% said they had an in-person appointment when they last tried to make one for themselves or someone else. This is a decrease of 39.5 percentage points compared with 2020 (90.0%).
• 67.6% said it was easy to get through to their GP practice on the phone, an increase of 2.4 percentage points compared with 2020 (65.2%).
• 67.0% were satisfied with the appointment times available to them, an increase of 4.0 percentage points compared with 2020 (63.0%).
• 68.5% were offered a choice of appointment when they last tried to book one (a choice of time/day, location, type, and/or healthcare professional).
• 81.7% were satisfied with the appointment they were offered last time they tried to make one.

Interestingly, when it came to online GP services, the numbers were much lower:

• 26.1% said they had used online services in the last 12 months to order repeat prescriptions.
• 18.7% said they had used online services to book appointments.
• 7.1% said they used online services to access their medical records in the past 12 months compared to other online services.

With access and choice of appointments coming out as the top priority in N.A.P.P.’s survey, it will be interesting to investigate if an increase in awareness and education around online GP services could help to alleviate this concern.

What is more, despite the numbers increasing between 2020 and 2021 in terms of patient satisfaction with accessing an appointment, N.A.P.P. feels that there is much room for improvement. As such, we will be taking the results from our survey, combined with further insights from our members, and presenting it as a list of recommendations to NHS England. If taken into full consideration, we believe the level of patient satisfaction around access to GP services will increase.

For more information on the results of the survey, please visit NHS England.

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