Patients to get say on GP services

Five million patients are to get the chance to have their say on GP services, as the biggest ever survey on NHS services was launched by the government.

The GP Patient Survey will ask patients about their experiences of flexible booking, telephone access and opening hours.

Questions will cover booking an appointment with a GP within two days; whether people are satisfied with how easy it is to get through to the surgery by phone; whether it is possible to book ahead for an appointment; whether it is possible to book an appointment with a particular doctor; and satisfaction with GP opening hours.

The survey will reward those GP practices offering patients good access to services.

An average practice with a list of 6,000 patients will have the chance to earn over £8,000 in incentives if they are responsive to patients' views on access.

Posters and leaflets informing NHS patients and staff about the new survey will be placed in GP surgeries over the next couple of weeks, with a postal survey being sent to around 5 million patients in January.

Taking part in the survey is voluntary and patients will be randomly selected to take part.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "The public has told us that access to GPs is one of their highest priorities, so it's vital we ensure practices can be accessed when the public needs.

"The GP Patient Survey will provide us with a patient's-eye-view of how well GP surgeries measure up on flexible booking and telephone access. Patients will also tell us whether they are satisfied with GP practice opening hours.

"We have invested generously in the new contract for GPs. We need now to make sure practices are responding to patient views on access."

Survey results will be available by late May 2007, with a view to Primary Care Trusts making payments to practices in the first quarter of the 2007/08 financial year.


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