A report by the health sector regulator into GP services provision in England sets out an opportunity for commissioners to improve services and ensure patients can access them more easily.
Catherine Davies, Executive Director of Cooperation and Competition at Monitor, said:
The way GP services are commissioned is changing and this represents a real opportunity to improve things for patients.
Commissioners have the chance to help the NHS meet the needs of a growing and ageing population by improving access and capacity of GP services in England.
Patients can also play a part by exercising their right to choose which surgery they go to and, if required, changing practice to one that better meets their needs.
Monitors findings included:
- 81% of patients are satisfied with their GP practice and a large majority of GP practices perform well against quality indicators used by commissioners and regulators
- about 3 in 10 patients are unhappy with aspects of their GP service such as ease of getting an appointment (30%), being offered appointments online (34%), being able to see the same doctor every time (35%) and being open evenings and weekends (46%)
- 4 out of 5 underperforming GP practices are in deprived areas; the distribution of funding for GP services creates a challenge for some GP practices in delivering good services to patients, particularly in economically deprived areas
- most patients choose a GP practice near to their home; only 16% considered alternatives and even fewer used published information about GP practices (such as the NHS Choices website) to make their decision
- relatively few new contracts for new GP practices have been awarded in the last 3 years