Satisfaction with GP services is at the lowest point since records began, a survey of almost 4,000 people has revealed.
Satisfaction with general practice among the 3,988 people surveyed by research company NatCen Social Research fell to 65% in 2017, marking a 7% point drop on the previous year and the biggest one-year change since the survey began in 1983.
Patient dissatisfaction with the NHS overall also rocketed to 29%, the highest level recorded since 2007, according to NatCen.
A leading factor contributing to dissatisfaction with NHS services was difficulty in being seen by a healthcare professional, with 52% of respondents saying that ‘it takes too long to get a GP or hospital appointment’.
The survey’s findings come less than two weeks after provisional NHS England data showed that GP practices in England have lost 219 GPs in three months.
‘No workforce to deliver care’
Sheinaz Stansfield, practice manager at Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group in Gateshead, Newcastle, said: ‘Practices are working harder than ever to deliver services at a time when funding for general practice has reduced to 7.1% of the total NHS spending.
‘We are under unprecedented pressure with no workforce to deliver the care. As people become dissatisfied with the whole system, their dissatisfaction is aimed at general practice because we are the first point of contact.’
Analysis by health thinktank the King’s Fund last year found that ‘workload has increased substantially in recent years and has not been matched by growth in either funding or in workforce’.
It found that workload in practices went up by more than 15% between 2010/11 and 2014-15.
‘Under immense pressure’
Practice manager at The Colte Partnership – Mersea Island Branch in Essex, Paul Conroy, said that limited resources are to blame for the current state of general practice.
He said: ‘When you look at vacancy rates, emigration and retirement rates, staff per capita, or practice closures, we are a system under immense pressure.
‘Expectations have grown exponentially, both from commissioners and patients. And we’ve essentially seen the consultation rate double over the last decade, while resources have halved.’