Satisfaction with Scottish GP practices falls in biggest drop in a decade

Scottish satisfaction with GP practices has fallen in the biggest year-on-year drop since 2009, according to new figures from a survey carried out before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gilmore Medical Practice at Tollcross Health Centre in Edinburgh.Gilmore Medical Practice at Tollcross Health Centre in Edinburgh.
Gilmore Medical Practice at Tollcross Health Centre in Edinburgh.

Some 79 per cent of people rated the overall care provided by their GP practice positively in the 2019/2020 Health and Care Experience survey, a four percentage point drop from last year.

This is 11 percentage points below the level in 2009, the first year of the survey, and the largest year-on-year drop since then.

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In 2019/2020 15 per cent of people said they felt neutral about the care provided by their GP practice, while six per cent rated it negatively, compared to two per cent in 2009.

People were also asked to rate arrangements for getting to see various healthcare professionals at their GP practice, with mental health services receiving the worst rating.

The Scottish Health and Care Experience Survey is a postal survey which was sent to a random sample of people who were registered with a GP in Scotland in August 2019.

It has been run every two years since 2009 and forms part of the Scottish Care Experience Survey Programme, a group of national surveys aiming to provide local and national information on the quality of health and care services.

Questionnaires were sent out in October 2019 asking about people’s experiences during the previous 12 months.

Around 85 per cent of people said they found it easy to contact their GP in the way they want.

But 17 per cent of people said they were not happy with their GP’s opening hours – for 14 per cent this was because they found it difficult to get time off work while the practice was open.

Respondents were asked how long they had to wait the last time they needed to see or speak to a doctor or a nurse from their GP practice quite urgently. Of those who had needed to do so, 92 per cent were offered an appointment within two working days, a decrease from 93 per cent the previous year.

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People were also asked to rate their experience of getting to see a healthcare professional.

These were most positive for getting to see a pharmacist or chemist, which 86 per cent of people rated positively.

Mental health services were the worst rated, with 46 per cent rating arrangements to see a mental health professional positively, and 38 per cent rating them negatively.

Getting to see a GP was rated 67 per cent positively, and 15 per cent negatively.

When asked about their experience the last time they went to the practice, 93 per cent of people said they had been listened to, and 89 per cent said they were treated with compassion and understanding. Some 75 per cent said their treatment or care was well coordinated.

A total of 160,372 people responded to the survey, with women and older age groups more likely to respond.

People were also asked to rate their health in general. Some 69 per cent rated it as good or very good, 25 per cent rated it as fair, and six per cent said their health was bad or very bad.

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