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Seven-day service is not a priority for patients, survey finds

8 March 2016

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Patients are more concerned that the doctor has their medical records at hand and is polite than they are about seven-day access or the proximity of the surgery to their house, a new survey has found.

The poll, by the University of Lincoln, asked almost 1,500 patients across 174 practices in England about their practices performance (their experience) and the importance of those factors (how important it is to them).

Extensive opening hours were rated as one of the least important elements, as well as GPs knowing about the patient’s living situation; short waiting times; doctors asking about other possible problems; and the proximity of the practice to the patient’s house, the researchers found.

In contrast, the most valued aspects of care by the patients surveyed were: that the GP has the patient’s medical records at hand, is polite, listens carefully to patients, and takes sufficient time/does not make the patient feel under pressure.

Lead researcher Dr Coral Sirdifield, said: “These findings offer a real insight into the aspects of GP services which are considered the most important by patients and how those aspects marry up with the actual experiences patients have at GP surgeries.”

She added that the findings suggest “the Government’s drive for seven-day general practice is not what patients in this survey valued most”.

The most important aspects to patients, in descending order

1. Doctor has the patient’s medical records at hand

2. Doctor is polite

3. Doctor listens carefully to patients

4. Doctor takes sufficient time/does not make the patient feel under pressure  

5. Doctor involves patients in making decisions about treatment

6. Doctor asks patient about other possible problems besides the one she/he came for

7. Doctor knows important information about the patient’s background

8. Doctor knows about the patient’s living situation

9. After the visit the patient feels she/he can cope better with his/her health problem/illness

10. Extensive opening hours

11. Proximity of practice to patient’s house

12. Short waiting time when contacting the practice

13. The patient knows how to get evening, night and weekend services

14. Staff at the reception are polite and helpful

15. Ease to get an appointment

See the full research paper here.

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