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Good patient survey results could still mean cuts for many practices, says BMA

19 May 2010

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The BMA has warned that this year’s patient survey could result in GP practices facing cuts in funding, despite results released in Scotland showing that patients are very happy with access to their GP.

The results, published yesterday (18 May 2010), found 94.5% of patients who took part in the survey could get an appointment within 48 hours and 84.1% could book an advanced appointment.

However, the BMA says the variation in results for individual practices means that many practices will lose funding unfairly.

Dr Dean Marshall (pictured), Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs’ Committee, said: “I am pleased that the results show that the vast majority of patients have excellent access to their GP practice.

“However, good access to general practice is subjective and difficult to define as it is largely based on the views of an individual and relates to a personal need or experience.

“The results of this survey are linked to GP income and despite these high scores it is likely that some practices will lose much needed funding.

“We know that patients and GPs find the current appointment systems frustrating. It is important to seek patient feedback and to identify areas for improvement, but the BMA has repeatedly asked for the link between patient perceptions and pay to be cut.

“Instead, the BMA has called on the government to put in place measures to support practices that are finding it hard to improve access. This would be a far more effective use of resources that would deliver real results to patients.”

BMA Scotland

Related story: GPs accessibility increases in Scotland – survey

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply):

“I think the survey should not have any impact on funding. Surveys used to be done by surgeries directly to the patient. From results on these surveys it was very clear that some patients either did not understand the question or for whatever reason gave contradicting answers. I think surveys can be a good guide but I think there are too many anomolies to attached funding to them. An example would be last year’s results at one of our surgeries that scored low in access, low in advanced bookings but high in telephone access. The surgery in question has had appointments available within 48 hours throuhout the year, patients can book four weeks in advance but they only had one telephone line, so recently we installed another one because we thought telephone access might be hindered. So the practice can lose funding for not providing access when it is there. This in the long run will make practices think, ‘why bother?'” – Dean Thompson, London

“Given that the last figures from the survey gave responses from 125 patients out of a list size of 9,400 I find the results fairly meaningless. Last year we had three complaints about access and our list size grows steadily so I guess that we must be doing something right. So in my opinion the patient survey should have no impact on a practice’s funding and if it was scrapped it would make substantial efficiency savings. Is that not what we are trying to achieve at present?” – Allan Stewart, Wirral