Access to GP appointments May 2016

Between December 2015 and February 2016 Healthwatch Northumberland worked on a countywide project to better understand patients’ experiences of accessing GP appointments and the systems used by GP practices. Both patients and GP practices were contacted for their feedback and other sources information were also examined.


Overview of the Access to GP Appointments Project

This overview must be considered alongside the full report which presents the findings question by question and includes quote examples of patients’ experiences as well as other supporting sources of data.

Background, Aims and Method

Throughout 2015, feedback from the public highlighted access to GP appointments as a key issue in Northumberland, in terms of the time patients had to wait between requesting an appointment and seeing their GP, as well as different ways access to GP appointments is offered. There had also been some feedback about how long patients wait beyond their appointment time until they are seen by their GP. However, this does sit alongside much positive feedback from patients about their GP services.

Healthwatch Northumberland’s Access to Healthcare Task Group recommended that this issue was explored in more detail to help us understand the scope and scale of the problem for patients as well as look at what patients say works well for them with regards to the delivery of GP services so that it can be usefully shared.

The aim of the project was therefore to find out more about patients’ experience of accessing GP appointments in Northumberland, from both a patient and practice perspective. Two questionnaires were designed (one for patients and one for GP practices) which aimed to provide a snapshot of the current situation in Northumberland. Additional sources of data were also reviewed and offer additional support for the conclusions and recommendations drawn in this report.

The full report can be found here:  Access to GP Appointments – Detailed findings