Good access to general practice is an important element of the quality of care. The GP Patient Survey gives patients the opportunity to feed back about their experiences of their GP practice and other local NHS services, and answer questions on a range of issues such as access to services.
GP Patient Survey respondents were asked whether they were able to get an appointment to see or speak to a GP or nurse from their GP surgery the last time they tried. The majority of respondents answered 'yes', however this proportion decreased from 78% in 2012 to 75% in 2017. The proportion of respondents who said 'no' increased from 9% to 12% over the same time period, and those that had to call back closer to or on the day they wanted the appointment stayed constant at 13%. People who responded 'can't remember' have been excluded for comparison purposes. Note that this question was discontinued in the 2018 GP Patient Survey.
Until 2017, GP Patient Survey respondents who said that they were able to get an appointment to see or speak to a GP or nurse the last time they tried were asked, "How long after initially contacting the surgery did you actually see or speak to them?". Between 2012 and 2017, the proportion of respondents who answered 'a week or more later' increased significantly from 13% to 21%; this indicates that access to GP surgeries has worsened. However, the proportion of respondents who stated that they saw or spoke to a GP or nurse 'on the same day' as initially contacting the surgery increased slightly from 38% in 2012 to 40% in 2017. Therefore, most of the offset was due to a decrease in those who responded that they saw or spoke to a GP or nurse 'on the next working day' or 'a few days later'.
The question was changed in the 2018 GP Patient Survey to ask, "How long after initially trying to book the appointment did the appointment take place?". 35% of respondents stated that the appointment took place 'on the same day', but one quarter said that it only took place 'a week or more later'. Note that these results are not directly comparable with those from previous surveys. Please see 'About this data' for more information.
Enabling patients to see or speak to the GP they prefer is important for continuity of care, and evidence suggests that it can lead to more satisfied patients and clinicians, reduce costs and result in better health outcomes.
Until 2017, GP Patient Survey respondents who stated that they have a doctor they prefer to see at their surgery were asked, "How often do you see or speak to the GP you prefer?". Between 2012 and 2017, the proportion of respondents who 'almost or almost always' saw or spoke to the GP they prefer decreased from 42% to 33%. Those that 'never or almost never' saw or spoke to the GP they prefer increased from 6% to 9% over the same time period. This indicates that continuity of care in general practice may have worsened. Note that those who responded 'not tried at this GP surgery' were excluded for comparison purposes.
The 2018 GP Patient Survey altered the question slightly to, "How often do you see or speak to your preferred GP when you would like to?". Only 26% of respondents said that they 'always or almost always' saw or spoke to their preferred GP when they would like to, and 10% answered 'never or almost never'. These results are not directly comparable with results from previous surveys. Please see 'About this data' for further information.
About this data
In 2018, two key changes were made to the GP Patient Survey: - the content of the questionnaire was changed significantly to reflect changes in the delivery of primary care services in England. - the sample frame was extended to include 16-17 year olds for the first time to improve the inclusivity of the survey.
Analyses were carried out by Ipsos MORI to measure the impact of these changes on the comparability of trend data. These analyses found that trend data was subject to both context effects as a result of changes to the questionnaire and the inclusion of 16-17 year olds. As a result, the data that is presented here from the 2018 GP Patient Survey is not comparable with results from previous surveys.
The data was weighted to adjust for differences between all patients at a GP surgery and the subset of patients who actually completed the questionnaire.
For more detailed information, please see the GP Patient Survey - Technical Annex.