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New scheme rates Welsh practices’ access levels

6 January 2012

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GP surgeries across Wales are offering patients the opportunity to ‘rate’ data access levels and make the gradings publicly available.

The Aneurin Bevan Health Board has signed up 91 general practices across five counties in Wales to its grading programme so far.

Practices will be rated across five access criteria points, with ‘A’ certificates being awarded when each point has been proven to be met. They are:

  • First appointment to be offered at 8:30am or earlier.
  • Surgery open during lunch hours.
  • Last appointment to be offered at 5:50pm or later.
  • Practice staff contactable directly between the hours of   8:00am and 6:30pm.
  • Patients are able to book an appointment with one telephone call – without the need to call back – or online.

The scheme has already awarded 26 practices the maximum five ‘A’ rating, with four practices receiving a five ‘B’ style rating – provided to those surgeries that have at least one half-day closure.

All participating practices will be required to publish their certificate displaying their rating.

“Good accessibility is essential to offering a good GP service,” said Cathy O’Sullivan, Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council.

“This award will give welcome recognition to those practices trying hard to be available to their patients and give others something to aspire to.”

Backing the programme, the Welsh Health Minister Lesley Griffiths applauded the scheme’s encouragement of extended evening hours to improve accessibility for working people.

Do you think such schemes improve patient access and care? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“The effort is laudable, but I wonder what evidence it is based on? Being more contactable does not mean that the GP will see you any sooner. A measure we use is “time between patient calling and doctor speaking to patient”. Practices we know are doing well with a median time under 30 minutes” – Harry Longman, Leicester