8 out of 10 patients are positive about GPs says new national survey

As the NHS treats more patients than ever before, a new nationwide survey shows the vast majority of people are positive about their GP care – with eight out of ten patients rating their overall experience of their GP surgery as good.

The survey also found that confidence and trust in GPs and healthcare professionals remains extremely high at 95.6%, and 93.5% of patients felt involved in decisions about their care and treatment, while 94.8% felt the healthcare professional met their needs.

The GP Patient Survey 2018 compiled responses from almost 760,000 people across the country on their experience of healthcare services provided by GP surgeries, including access to GPs, making appointments, the quality of care received from GPs and other health professionals, waiting  times, and satisfaction with opening hours and out-of-hours NHS services. The survey, which has been redesigned to better reflect patient experience and the changing shape of primary care, has also been extended to include 16-17 year olds for the first time.

Further findings include that 83.8% described their overall experience of their GP practice as very or fairly good. The majority of patients (68.6%) rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good. Overall 61.6% of patients got an appointment at a time they wanted or sooner and 66.1% of patients who wanted a same day appointment got one.

Around seven in ten patients say it is very or fairly easy to get through to someone at their GP surgery on the phone, while more than 78% of patients who have used their GP practice website said they found it easy to access information or services.

When asked about their last appointment, 89.0% of patients said the healthcare professional was good at listening to them, 87.4% felt they were good at treating them and 86.8% of patients said they had been given enough time.

Dr Nikita Kanani, Acting Director of Primary Care for NHS England, said: “General Practice is the foundation of the NHS and this survey shows patients appreciate the fantastic job GPs and the wider primary care work force are doing in times of real pressure, helping more people living with increasingly complex conditions.

“We are already putting record funding into primary care after years of underinvestment, with an additional £2.4 billion every year by 2020 to help drive improvements in care, including widening access with more GPs are in training than ever before –  a record 3,157 began their studies last year. As we develop a long term plan for the NHS, we will look to further build on these successes and this critical foundation.”

Key findings

  • 83.8% described the overall experience of their GP surgery as good.
  • 68.6% of patients rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good.
  • Of everyone who wanted a same day appointment, 66.1% got one.
  • Of those who have a preferred GP, more than half (50.2%) said that they see or speak to them a lot of the time, almost always or always.
  • 93.5% of patients felt involved in decisions about their care and treatment.
  • 87.4% felt their healthcare professional was good at treating them.
  • 78.3% of patients who have tried to use their GP practice website found it easy to access information or services.
  • Almost seven in ten patients (68.7%) reported a good experience of NHS services when they wanted to see a GP but their GP practice was closed.
  • 91.2% of patients had confidence and trust in all of the people they saw or spoke to when their GP practice was closed.

The GP Patient Survey data publications can be found on the GP Patient Survey website:

Background information

This year’s survey has been extensively redesigned following engagement with over 200 stakeholders including patients, the British Medical Association (BMA) and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), and clinical and policy specialists from across the NHS, academia, the voluntary and community sector and think tanks – the aim is to  help better understand and shape areas for improvement in people’s experiences of general practice and evolving approaches to delivering GP services. This means the majority of questions are not comparable with previous years, and that no comparable data will be published by NHS England.

NHS England published its two year update on the publication of the General Practice Forward View in May 2018. The report highlights:

  • An extra £2.4 billion for general practice is on track to be delivered each year by 2020/21 (up from £9.6 billion in 2015/16 to £12 billion per annum by 2020/21). This represents a 14% real terms increase for general practice, against 8% for the rest of the NHS.
  • As part of an extra £2.4 billion going into general practice by 2020/21, over half of the country now has access to general practice appointments in the evenings and weekends, beating the target of 40% by March 2018. Plans have been brought forward to ensure that everyone will have more convenient access to appointments by October 2018, including on bank holidays and over the Christmas, New Year and Easter periods.
  • In 2016/17, £123 million was invested to improve access to general practice and we remain on track to invest at least a further £258 million in 2018/19 in improving access as planned.
  • The £45 million online consultation fund was launched on 30 October 2017. The fund is split over three years. In early adopter practices, 40-60% of consultations are resolved without the patient needing to attend in person.
  • The ‘Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View’ set out that one of the key ways for longer term transformational change with general practice working together as networks. A combined patient population of at least 30,000-50,000 allows practices to share community nursing, mental health, and clinical pharmacy teams, expand diagnostic facilities, and pool responsibility for urgent care and extended access. Primary care networks or hubs also involve working more closely with community pharmacists, to make fuller use of the contribution they make.
  • The General Practice Forward View (GPFV) has committed to expanding the number of GP training places. Last year 3,157 GPs began their training, the highest number ever recruited. Recruitment for the 2018 intake is now underway.
  • On 18 June, the Prime Minister set out a funding settlement for the NHS in England. This funding is equivalent to an average of 3.4% real terms growth a year over the next five years. In return, NHS England has been asked to set out a ten-year plan for the future of the NHS by the Autumn. A primary care plan is currently being developed and an engagement exercise with patients, public, frontline staff, voluntary and community sector and national organisations is currently underway.