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Patients like small practices

20 July 2007

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The smaller the practice, the more satisfied patients are with access to care, research suggests.

A study conducted in Northern Ireland found that 83% of smaller practices were satisfied with care access compared with 76% of those served by a clinic with more than four GPs.

“The results of this current study suggest that elements of practice satisfaction are compromised as practice size increases,” say the scientists.

“Thus, policy markers and GPs out to be mindful of the effects of expanding practices, and perhaps encourage patients to provide feedback on perceived differences in service provision as practice sizes increase.”

They add that confirmation of their work depends on the production of similar international comparative work.

Irish Medical Journal

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“We have a small practice and our patients seem to love it. The annual patients survey gives us above the benchmark results in almost all categories. Unfortunately, the burden of paperwork and meetings is disproportionate for smaller practices as we have just the same volume as those who have much larger administrative functions” – Name and address supplied

“I work in a smaller practice and find that the patients appreciate the friendly service they recieve from the practice. The two GPs work very hard along with all the staff and know the patients extremely well. We have generations registered at the practice. We have all worked here for many years and the patients really appreciate that they are known to us as soon as they walk through the door. I myself attend a very large practice and never see a regular doctor and I feel that I am just one of many. I do not have the personal touch of them knowing me or my family. I wish I could register where I work. I hope we can carry on working at this practice but I can see after working here for 22 years that smaller practices will not survive and what a shame this would be. Lets hope things will change so that our smaller friendly practices will stay” – Name and address supplied

“Patients do prefer small practices, more friendly. Patients like the same staff. They don’t ike large new practices, they’re too clinical, more like a mini hospital” – Name and address supplied

“We are building supersurgeries because that is what we are told from all angles is going to be the most profitable. Yes, patients may prefer a small surgery, but what is it they like about a small surgery? If you ask me, it’s knowing the receptionist, the nurse or the doctor. It’s feeling important and valued as an individual, it’s not feeling like a piece of meat on a conveyor belt. So when merging, what are the important considerations, how can you make a person feel like an individual rather than a tiny part of a jigsaw puzzle? You have to look at how you can retain the “family doctor” atmosphere whilst maximising efiiciency and ultimately profitablility. There is always going to be a fine line to tread, and you will never please all of the people all of the time, but the important thing is to empathise with patients who preferred it the “old way” whilst enthusing them about the great new opportunities and services they now have access to under the current setup. For example, yes, they may now not see “their” doctor as often as they would like, but look how much easier it is to get through on the phone, or, we can do your minor surgery here rather than going through the stress and inconvenience of a hospital referral. Put yourself in their shoes, and let them see that you have considered the strength of feeling on both sides” – Name and address supplied

“This government audits and surveys general practice to the point when even the patients question what is going on. What bugs me is that they do not respond to results that do not fit their agenda. The comparative results for the last two years from our CFEP IPQ survey for all questions show that the larger the practice the lower the satisfaction score. So what does the government recommend? Supersurgeries” – Nic Burne, Doncaster