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GP Patient Survey 2021
NHS England and NHS Improvement together with Ipsos MORI, have today published the latest Official Statistics from the GP Patient Survey. The survey provides information on patients’ overall experience of primary care services and their overall experience of accessing these services.
Data are weighted by age and gender so that results resemble the eligible registered list population of each practice and CCG.
The latest survey consisted of around 2.41 million postal questionnaires sent out to adults registered with GP practices in England from January 2021 to the end of March 2021. Around 850,000 patients completed and returned a questionnaire, resulting in a national response rate of 35.3%.
There are four comparable years of data (2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021) for most of the GP Patient Survey questions.
Two key changes were made to the GP Patient Survey for the 2018 publication; the content of the GPPS questionnaire was changed significantly to reflect new ways of working and the sample frame was extended to include 16-17 years olds to improve inclusivity of the survey. These changes led to the loss of comparability for most question results at national level, and all question results at CCG and GP practice level. The 2018 results are the new baseline from which we can begin to monitor changes over time (there are a small number of questions that can be compared back to 2012 as these were not affected by the developments in the previous year).
Changes to the 2021 survey
The questionnaire was redeveloped in 2021 to reflect changes to primary care services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effect of which should be taken into account when looking at results over time. For more information on the redevelopment of the questionnaire please view the technical annex.
Summary of key headlines
A summary of some of the key headlines from the 2021 weighted results are provided below. For a more detailed overview of the results please see the data and reports published on the survey’s main website:
- The majority of patients (83.0%) rated their overall experience of their GP practice as good, with just under half (48.2%) rating their experience as ‘very good’. Compared with 2020, the proportion of patients who rated their experience as good has increased by 1.2 percentage points from 81.8%.
- Around seven in ten patients (70.6%) rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good, with just under one in three saying it was ‘very good’ (32.4%). Compared with 2020, the proportion of patients who rated their experience as good has increased by 5.2 percentage points from 65.5%.
- Around one in five patients (19.9%) said they tried to contact an NHS service in the past 12 months when they wanted to see a GP but their GP practice was closed, either for themselves or for someone else. Of these, around two in three (65.6%) rated their overall experience of these services as good, with around three in ten (31.5%) saying it was ‘very good’. Compared with 2020, the proportion of patients who reported a good experience of NHS services when their GP practice was closed has decreased by 1.8 percentage points from 67.3%
- Of patients who had tried, around two in three (67.6%) said it was easy to get through to their GP practice on the phone, an increase of 2.4 percentage points compared with 2020 (65.2%).
- The majority of patients (88.7%) said the receptionists at their GP practice were helpful, similar to 2020 (88.9%).
- Around two in three patients (67.0%) were satisfied with the appointment times available to them, an increase of 4.0 percentage points compared with 2020 (63.0%).
- Less than half of all patients (45.8%) have a GP they prefer to see. Of these patients, 45.2% said they saw them always, almost always or a lot of the time, similar to 2020 (45.1%).
Online GP services
- Around one in four patients (26.1%) said they’d used online services in the last 12 months to order repeat prescriptions, while less than one in five patients (18.7%) said they’d used online services to book appointments. Fewer patients (7.1%) said they used online services to access their medical records in the past 12 months compared to other online services.
- More than half of patients (52.7%) had tried to use their GP practice website to access information or services, an increase of 10.6 percentage points compared with 2020 (42.0%).
- Of patients who had tried to use their GP practice website, three in four (75.4%) found their GP practice website easy to use, a decrease of 0.8 percentage points compared with 2020 (76.2%).
Making an appointment
- More than two in three patients (68.5%) were offered a choice of appointment when they last tried to book one (a choice of time/day, location, type, and/or healthcare professional).
- More than four in five patients (81.7%) were satisfied with the appointment they were offered last time they tried to make one.
- Around half of patients (49.5%) said they had a remote appointment (telephone or online) when they last tried to make one for themselves or someone else, an increase of 39.5 percentage points compared with 2020 (10.0%).
- Specifically, over two in five patients (46.9%) said they had a telephone appointment, and 2.6% said they had an appointment to speak to someone online (9.8% and 0.2% for the 2020 survey respectively).
- Around half of patients (50.5%) said they had an in-person appointment (at their GP practice, at another GP practice, or a home visit) when they last tried to make one for themselves or someone else. This is a decrease of 39.5 percentage points compared with 2020 (90.0%).
- Of patients who were offered an appointment, most said they accepted the appointment (97.5%). Overall, around one in ten patients (10.3%) did not get an appointment the last time they tried to make one for themselves or someone else (either an appointment was not offered or was not accepted).
- More than two in five patients (42.3%) said they had avoided making an appointment in the past 12 months. One in five (19.8%) had done so because they were worried about the burden on the NHS. Around one in six patients (17.3%) avoided making an appointment because they were worried about the risk of catching COVID-19.
- Over nine in ten patients (92.9%) felt involved in decisions about their care and treatment, similar to 2020 (93.0%).
- Less than nine in ten patients (86.0%) felt the healthcare professional recognised or understood their mental health needs, an increase of 0.6 percentage points compared with 2020 (85.4%).
- Most patients (95.6%) had confidence and trust in the healthcare professional they saw or spoke to, an increase of 0.3 percentage points compared with 2020 (95.3%).
- Most patients (94.0%) felt their needs were met during their last appointment, similar to 2020 (94.2%).
- One in seven patients (14.9%) felt isolated from others in the past 12 months, an increase of 7.4 percentage points compared with 2020 (7.5%).
- Over half of all patients (52.5%) said they had one or more long-term physical or mental health conditions, disabilities or illnesses, 44.5% of patients said they have none of these, and 3.0% preferred not to say.
- The most commonly reported conditions, disabilities or illnesses are ‘Arthritis or ongoing problem with back or joints’ (17.0%) and ‘High blood pressure’ (15.5%).
- Of patients who said they have one or more long-term condition, disability or illness, 73.6% said they had support from local services or organisations to help them manage their condition(s), a decrease of 3.9 percentage points compared with 2020 (77.5%).
- Over four in five patients (83.0%) with a long-term condition felt confident they could manage any issues arising from their condition(s), a decrease of 0.3 percentage points compared with 2020 (83.3%).
- Of patients who said they had a long-term condition, 41.0% have had a conversation with a healthcare professional about what is important to them when managing their condition(s), an increase of 0.7 percentage points compared with 2020 (40.3%). Of these patients, three in five (59.5%) had agreed a plan with a healthcare professional to manage their condition(s), a decrease of 1.1 percentage points compared with 2020 (60.7%).
- Over nine in ten (95.1%) found this plan (very or fairly) helpful in managing their condition(s), an increase of 1.0 percentage point compared with 2020 (94.1%).
When your GP practice is closed
- One in five patients (19.9%) had contacted an NHS service when their GP practice was closed, a decrease of 1.8 percentage points compared with 2020 (21.7%).
- Seven in ten patients (69.7%) thought the time taken to receive care or advice on this occasion was about right, a 6.3 percentage point increase compared with 2020 (63.4%).
NHS Dentistry results
- Results for questions in the GP Patient Survey relating to NHS dental services forms part of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s dental statistics.