Survey reveals concerns over access to Doncaster GP services - with one patient redialing 86 times

Health bosses plan to raise uptake of out-of-hours appointments after a report raised concerns over access to Doncaster’s GP services.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 1:55 pm

Healthwatch Doncaster’s survey revealed 55 per cent of respondents experienced difficulties accessing GP services, and one patient had to redial 86 times to get through to a practice.

Of 634 reporting problems accessing services, 344 wanted an appointment to suit commitments; 42 per cent to see a specific GP or nurse; and 73 per cent struggled getting through on the telephone.

Healthwatch’s report stated: “A number of people stated they struggled to get through on the phone when ringing a GP practice stating it took them numerous return calls. One person told us it took 86 redials. Another person told us it took three days to get through because the line was always engaged.

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Health secretary Matt Hancock at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary. He is pictured with Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher and Doncaster Council Conservative group leader Jane Cox

“These views are common views we have heard not just in this survey but in other engagement events. They are a reflection of what patients experienced at the time and naturally these patients feel inconvenienced and upset at a time when the majority of them feel unwell.”

The report noted variation between practices. In the lowest, 21 per cent of patients said it was ‘easy’ to get through on the phone. In the best, the figure was 99 per cent.

It added: “A number of respondents identified they are aware of the variation between GP practices for many of the services they access. We were made aware of some patients describing very different experiences from their family members because they are registered with different GP practices.”

Last year’s NHS’ GP Patient Survey rated Doncaster lower than the national average for patients’ GP practice experience.

Patients are struggling to get through to their GPs on the phone

Dr David Crichton, chairman of Doncaster NHS Clincal Commissioning Group, said despite concerns over appointments, 40 per cent of recently introduced ‘out of hours’ appointments with doctors are still left untaken.

He said: “These were brought in to give people the chance to see a GP when they would not have previously been able to, at weekends or later in the day.

“If there is a perception people feel they can’t see a GP we need to point them in the right place.”

Appointments are available through local surgeries.