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Online appointment booking on the increase

9 July 2014

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Online appointment booking is becoming more popular according to a poll.

The proportion of patients in England booking their appointments online has increased from 1.6% to 4.5% since June 2012 according to Ipsos MORI’s latest national GP Patient Survey involving one million randomly-selected people.

The twice yearly survey also found a significant change in patient attitudes, with the number of people preferring to book appointments online increasing from 5.2% to 33.8%, while 75% of patients defined their experience of making an appointment as good.

 The survey also showed that 85.7% patients described the overall experience of their GP surgeries as good compared with 86.7% last year, while 78.7% of patients would recommend their surgeries to others in their local area and two thirds called out-of-hours services good.

Head of Primary Care Commissioning for NHS England, Dr David Geddes said: “Overall, these results show that the majority of patients are positive about their GP services, which is testament to the hard work of GPs and their staff. But we need to recognise the continuing trend in what patients are telling us about access to services, particularly out of hours.”

The opening hours of GP surgeries were satisfactory according to 76.9% of patients and 74.6% of people said that the surgeries were open at convenient times for them.

Since the beginning of this survey, many changes have been made in an attempt to improve patient experiences of GP practices, such as:

– Changes to GP contracts to improve patient access of GPs

– Patients given more choice with how they contact their doctors

– Greater responsibility for GPs to monitor out-of-hours care

As part of the Prime Minister’s challenge fund, 20 pilot studies are underway to assess innovative ways of increasing access to GPs and include:

– Opening hours of 8am-8pm on weekdays and weekends

– Better use of telecare and health apps

– Novel ways for patients to book appointments and consult doctors such as email and skype.

The pilot schemes are part of a 12-month national programme to evaluate and develop pioneering ways of running practices more efficiently.