GP services are vital and usually the first point of contact for many when something isn’t quite right with their health. When undertaking a survey of local residents’ views of their local health and social care services, in answer to an open question asking what areas of health and social care should we look into next year?, 27% of local people told Healthwatch that the main thing they struggled with was the ability to access these services.
GPs are a universal service, which most of us have used at some point. They play a pivotal role in the community, through the provision of advice, referrals and free healthcare. Yet over the past year patients have increasingly contacted
Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham about a number of issues. These have
- Appointments that need to be booked two weeks or more in advance.
- Short contact time with GPs
- GPs asking patients to only discuss one issue per appointment
Issues including unanswered phones, or delays in answering the phone, has become an increasing problem - leading people to become frustrated or seek alternative ways to book an appointment. Interestingly, local people and GPs agree when it comes to ‘Did not attend (DNAs)’. Both are frustrated because of the time wasted in a stretched service. Local people are frustrated because they have to wait longer for an appointment, while DNAs
cost the practice both money and the time that could have been spent with other
Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham undertook this project to understand the problems and barriers local people face and make recommendations for solutions that are within the grasp of the local GP practices.
Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham provides a strong voice for all age groups in the community. GPs are an important service; we spoke to both local people AND local GPs to find solutions and support improved access. Everyone’s opinions and views matter.
By the end of the project we had spoken to 250 local residents and a number of GPs.