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Appointment systems at Southwark GP practices - are they working?

15/12/2017

From October 2016 to February 2017 we spoke with 397 local people about what they thought HWS should focus on in 2017/18. The most common concern by some distance was the issue of getting timely access to GPs, which we therefore made one of our priority areas.

From May to August 2017 we used our power of Enter and View to visit all 44 GP practice sites in Southwark. We also received online survey responses from 39 Practice Managers, interviewed 50 receptionists, and talked to 550 patients about their experiences of GP appointment systems. Today we are publishing our report, 'Appointment systems at Southwark GP practices - are they working?', as well as a summary.

Southwark's Clinical Commissiong Group and GP federations have responded to our report and recommendations, and you can read their response here.

The report covers topics from how easy it is for people to contact their surgery to how easy it is to get appointments, how surgeries make decisions about where and when patients should be seen, Southwark's Extended Primary Care Service (EPCS) and alternatives to the traditional face-to-face GP appointment.

We hope that the report will support fresh thinking and discussion on questions such as:

  • 23% of people in Southwark find it hard to contact their GP surgery, especially at 8am. How can phone and online systems be optimised?
  • 23% of people rarely or never get a same-day GP appointment when wanted. How should the system respond to demand?
  • 71% of residents waited less than two weeks for their last routine GP appointment - but how can surgeries improve waits for everyone?
  • How can GP surgeries get the balance between same-day and advance appointments just right?
  • GP practices take different approaches to triaging patients. What's the best way to ensure those who need a GP can see one?
  • Some receptionists told us they encourage people to try services like Pharmacy First. How can we ensure alternatives to GPs work well?
  • Many residents told us that they would be interested in using EPCS but only 38% had heard of it before our survey. How can we make the most of the 8am-8pm GP appointments there?

Read the report to find out more!

We held a public event to discuss the findings on 5th December 2017 - a report on this will be published shortly.

For all of our work on GP access, see the tab on our Reports page.

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