Fewer patients reporting positive GP experiences, says survey

Fewer patients are reporting positive experiences with their GP, a survey has suggested.
Fewer patients are reporting positive experiences with their GP, a survey has suggested.
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The number of patients who have a positive experience when it comes to care from GP practices has fallen over the past few years, a new document reveals.

The Scottish Government’s 2017/18 Health and Care Experience survey found that 83 per cent of those questioned rated their care positively, a decrease of two percentage points compared to 2015/16 and a decrease of seven percentage points compared to 2009/10.

The percentage of people who said that they had a say in how their help, care or support was provided also decreased. This time from 83 per cent in 2013/14 to 76 per cent in 2017/18.

More than 130,000 people were questioned for the survey, which also found a fall in the proportion of carers who felt supported to continue caring.

Just 37 per cent of carers said they felt supported to continue caring - a decrease from 43 per cent from 2013/14.

The figures were released at a time when Health Secretary Shona Robison is under increasing pressure over her stewardship of the NHS.

Labour and the Lib Dems have called for her to quit amid controversy over funding decisions taken by NHS Tayside, which saw more than £2 million endowment cash used for spending on routine services.

Doctors organisations have also warned of the increasing stress faced by the profession. Today consultants, family doctors and trainee doctors will attend a summit at Holyrood for a summit to address the “perfect storm” facing Scotland’s NHS.

The meeting, which has been organised by Labour, will warn that doctors are facing burn-out and stress and warn of a looming recruitment crisis.

According to the Health and Experience survey, one in 20 (five per cent) of those questioned ranked the care provided by their GP practice as “poor” or “very poor” - up from two per cent eight years ago.

More encouragingly, it also found 87 per cent of people found it easy to contact their GP practice, while more than nine out ten (93 per cent) were able to get an appointment within two days.

But over two thirds of people (67 per cent) rated the arrangements for getting to see a doctor positively, down from 70 per cent in 2015-16 and 81 per cent in 2009-10.

Fewer people reported being able to book appointments three working days or more in advance - with the proportion of patients able to do this falling from 77 per cent in 2015-16 to 68 per cent in 2017-18.

This is “significantly below” the 90 per cent standard set by the Scottish Government and NHS boards as part of local delivery plans.

Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said the research showed the Scottish Government needed to increase funding for family doctors.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton warned that patients were feeling the impact of a GP “crisis”.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “In the last year there has been a welcome rise in the number of people offered an urgent appointment at their GP practice within 48 hours, from 91 per cent to 93 per cent, with all health boards meeting the minimum standard of 90 per cent.

“The overall rating of care remains high and the new GP contract, backed by investment of £110 million this year, will ensure GPs can spend even more time with patients when they really need to see them.

“There will also be new investment in the wider multi-disciplinary teams to support GPs and improve patient care.”