More than half Burnley patients struggle to see their GP

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More than half of Burnley patients find it difficult to get urgent or same-day appointments at their doctors, a new survey has revealed.

And more than a fifth of those questioned said they have resorted to visiting a hospital accident and emergency service because of difficulties in getting to see their GP.

It is encouraging that clinical commissioning groups across Lancashire, supported by NHS England Lancashire, have developed plans to implement 7 day access to primary medical care services that will include services being available 8am until 8pm weekdays with further provision on Saturdays and Sundays

Lancashire Primary Care Co-Commissioning Management Group

The shock findings come in a report published by Healthwatch Lancashire into the problem of getting to see your doctor.

The watchdog quizzed more than 1,000 people across Lancashire. Those who said they had difficulties said it was due to the availability of appointments, problems with contacting by phone and work commitments.

Three-quarters of respondents said their GP practice is open at convenient times. Although the vast majority of people said they would like to see GP surgeries open on more evenings and Saturday mornings.

Sheralee Turner-Birchall, Healthwatch Lancashire Chief Officer, said: “The findings from our Your GP, Your Say report highlight that many people in Lancashire are struggling to access GP services. It is of real importance that those who manage and run services use this information and other sources of patient feedback to shape and improve services for people in Lancashire.  

“I would like to thank all those people across Lancashire who shared their views and experiences as part of this project and our dedicated volunteers who made a significant contribution to the project.”

Lancashire Primary Care Co-Commissioning Management Group provided the following response to the findings: “The Lancashire Co-commissioning Management Group would like to take this opportunity to thank Healthwatch Lancashire for this important work.

“The purpose of the survey was to gain more feedback from service users to supplement existing intelligence relating to NHS primary medical care access and patient experience, primarily to help shape extended access to general practice.

“The survey was developed by a group of clinical commissioning groups and NHS England representatives, including GPs, and the information garnered will help inform commissioners about the potential unmet need and expressed demand for primary care services.

“It also helps us to ensure that, when trying to access care, patients know where to go to receive the best advice to getting the right care as soon as possible.

“In working through the responses contained in the survey it is encouraging to observe the vast majority of patients consider their GP practice is open at a convenient time. However, for others, it is clear extended access in the evening and weekends would be considered to be beneficial. It is encouraging therefore that clinical commissioning groups across Lancashire, supported by NHS England Lancashire, have developed plans to implement 7 day access to primary medical care services that will include services being available 8am until 8pm weekdays with further provision on Saturdays and Sundays.

“The survey also highlights difficulties some patients are experiencing in trying to book appointments at their GP practice. To help address this specific issue, the Lancashire digital and technology work stream have prioritised the implementation and uptake of online services in general practice to enable patients to book appointments, order prescriptions and view patient medical records online. The digital work stream will also explore the opportunity for patients to use video consultations and health care apps to enable other modes of access to general practice besides traditional face to face consultations.

“Finally the survey helps inform commissioners about the potential to use the wider primary care workforce such as community pharmacy and practice nurses to deliver general practice services to patients.”

“The Co-commissioning Management Group will continue to engage with the public and service users to ensure primary care being provided for patients not only meets their needs, but is accessible and of a high quality.”