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Patients give up on 'difficult' appointments

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Patients are increasingly avoiding seeing their GP because they find it too difficult to book an appointment, the latest data show.

Results from the 2022 GP Patient Survey also show that satisfaction with family doctors in England has dwindled since the previous year. The findings come as the Government and the NHS struggle to retain GPs and boost recruitment to meet rising patient demand and an ageing population.

The survey found that overall satisfaction ratings have declined over the past 2 years, although most patients who responded to a questionnaire reported a good overall experience with their GP practice, had confidence and trust in the healthcare professional who saw them, and considered they received good care and treatment.

The results also revealed an increase in the barriers patients faced in getting an appointment in the first place, with 55.4% who needed one in the last 12 months saying they had avoided making one – an increase of 13.1% since the last survey. The most common reason given was that they found it too difficult, cited by 26.5% of respondents, and a huge increase on last year's figure of 11.1%.

Commenting on the results, Beccy Baird, senior fellow at The King's Fund said: "For many of us, general practice is the front door to the NHS – these results show that patients are finding that door increasingly hard to push open.

"GPs are working harder than ever before, yet these findings show a dramatic fall in patients' experience of getting an appointment."

She said recruitment of GPs, nurses, and other professionals to meet rising levels of need was proving tough "because in many cases those staff simply don’t exist".

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Source: Medscape, 14 July 2022

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