The majority of primary care patients have “confidence” in and “trust” the last nurse they saw for a consultation, according to latest national survey findings.
More than four out of five patients (84.5%) have confidence and trust in the last nurse they saw, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points from 84.6% since 2016, indicated the 2017 GP Patient Survey. This compares to around 92% for GPs in both years.
“These figures reflect the growing impact from the unsustainable pressures facing general practice”
The results, published by NHS England, are based on one wave of fieldwork conducted during January 2017 to March 2017 only.
It consisted of around 2.15 million questionnaires sent out to adults registered with GP practices in England. Over 808,000 patients completed and returned it, a national response rate of 37.5%.
The survey asked patients about the last time they saw or spoke to a nurse from your GP surgery, with the following results on how good was that nurse at each of the following:
- Giving you enough time – 79.5% good and 1.5% bad
- Listening to you – 78.6% good and 1.7% bad
- Explaining tests and treatments – 76.1% good and 1.5% bad
- Involving you in decisions about your care – 65.9% good and 1.9% bad
- Treating you with care and concern – 77.5% good and 1.9% bad
The survey report noted that the proportion of patients saying their nurse was good at involving them in decisions about their care has dropped since 2012 – from 68.2% to 65.9% – but remained stable since 2016 when it was 65.8%.
However, the survey indicates a decline in overall access to primary care services as well as longer waits to see or speak with a clinician.
Most patients (84.3%) said they were able to get an appointment to see or speak to someone the last time they tried, a decrease of 0.7 percentage points from 84.9% since 2016.
Of patients who were able to get an appointment, more than nine out of ten (92.1%) say their appointment was convenient, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points from 92.5% since 2016.
In addition, nearly two in three patients (64.2%) say they normally wait 15 minutes or less after their appointment time to be seen, a decrease of 0.7 percentage points from 64.9% since 2016.
More than half of all patients (57.7%) said “they don’t normally have to wait too long” to be seen, a decrease of 0.6 percentage points since 2016.
Meanwhile, patients increasingly said they booked appointments to see a GP or nurse online (8.7%), increasing by 1.3 percentage points from 7.5% since 2016.
The survey also asked patients about written care plans. In 2017, 3.2% of patients said they had a written care plan.
A similar proportion say they do not know if they have a plan (3.7%). The vast majority of patients (93.1%) say they do not have a written care plan.
Seven in 10 patients (71.3%) who have a written care plan say they helped put their plan together.
Of patients who have a written care plan, 67.2% said they used their plan to manage their day-to-day health.
Of patients who have a written care plan, 57.7% said they regularly review it with their GP, nurse or another health professional.
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Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It’s very concerning that more people are having to wait for longer to get appointments with their GP or practice nurse.
“It is particularly worrying that some patients are deciding not to seek medical advice at all if they are not able to get an appointment initially,” she said.
“Despite the unprecedented workload and workforce issues currently facing general practice, our hardworking GPs and their teams right across the country will be heartened to see that 92% of patients continue to have confidence and trust in their GP, and are happy with the care they receive.
“We need the pledges in NHS England’s GP Forward View – which includes an extra £2.4bn a year for general practice and 5,000 additional GPs – to be delivered as a matter of urgency so that our patients can see a GP when they need to and receive the quality care they deserve.”
Dr Richard Vautrey, acting chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: “Despite GPs and their practice teams working flat out to provide as good a service as they can and see as many patients as promptly as possible, these figures reflect the growing impact from the unsustainable pressures facing general practice.
“It is unfair on patients across the country that their increasing needs are not being recognised by the government, which is failing to address increasing staff shortages and is providing insufficient funding, leaving too many patients waiting longer for the care they need,” he added.