NHS :: NHS GP access improves in UK

UK NHS patients are experiencing shorter waits to see a family doctor, according to the results of a major, independent survey into GP services, published by the Department of Health, UK.

The results show that nine out of ten NHS patients have the opportunity to see their GP within 48 hours.

The survey of 10,000 patients, conducted by Picker Institute Europe on behalf of the department, shows that 88 per cent of patients now report having the chance to see GP within 48 hours.

Many patients report seeing a GP well inside two working days. The survey shows that four out of ten (41 per cent) patients receive an appointment on the same working day they contacted their GP, up from 27 per cent three years ago (2002/03).

Just 12 per cent of patients reported that they waited more than two working days because no earlier appointment had been available with any GP at their local practice, compared to around half of patients in 1997.

The findings also confirm that the improvement in fast access to GPs has not been at the cost of flexible booking. Seven out of ten patients (70 per cent) report that their practice allows them to make a doctor’s appointment three or more working days in advance, the same figure as last year.

Health Minister Andy Burnham said:

“Access to NHS GPs is undoubtedly improving. Patients rightly expect to be seen at a convenient time and quickly, that’s why we set a target of patients being able to see a GP within two working days. This survey shows that the 48-hour access target has led to significant improvements in access and has largely ended the problem of people waiting a week or more to see a GP. We have taken action to tackle restrictive booking and tightened tests on the two-day GP access target. Our recently launched GP Patient Survey will further improve measures of GP access and drive up standards by rewarding those practices offering patients good access to services.”

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