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Almost half of patients in Cornwall struggle to book GP appointment

by Valeria Fiore
17 May 2018

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Nearly half (46%) of Cornish patients find it hard to speak to practice staff to book an appointment, a health watchdog has revealed.
A survey, which collected answers from more than 2,100 patients, launched by Healthwatch Cornwall in collaboration with health service commissioners NHS Kernow, also found that the overall experience of booking an appointment was ‘poor’ for 38% of people.
Waiting times to see a GP varied across practices, with 45% of patients able to book an appointment on the same
day and a further 8% able to book an appointment for the next working day.
However, one in five (21%) respondents reported having to wait longer than a week to see their GP.
The survey put forward a series of recommendations for NHS Kernow CCG to consider when trying improving primary care.
These are:

  • addressing the variation in wait to see a doctor across the county;
  • offering advance booking for routine appointments;
  • enhancing a person’s ability to see the same doctor;
  • a review of telephone triage to note patient availability in accepting callbacks and patient preferences for sharing information with non-medical staff;
  • further public education to inform people about the range of healthcare professionals who could manage their care where appropriate.

Source: Healthwatch Cornwall
Healthwatch Cornwall’s chief executive Amanda Stratford said: ‘By not offering advance routine appointments, undue pressure may be being placed on the system, leading to frustration for patients who have to keep calling back each day until an appointment is available.’
A national issue
The health watchdog’s report comes after another survey showed that patient satisfaction with GP services hit an all-time low this year since the first survey on patient satisfaction was launched in 1983.
A different survey commissioned by Octopus Healthcare found that a third of Brits could not see their GP in the last year because they weren’t able to get through on the phone to make an appointment.
For these reasons, some practices have started to look into working collaboratively to offer better access to routine appointments or train their receptionists as care navigators to improve patients’ triage.