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21-03-2013 | General practice | Article

Patient ‘distrust’ out-of-hours GPs

Abstract

Patients Association report: Primary Care: Access Denied?

medwireNews: Patients lack confidence in their out-of-hours services and struggle to make routine GP appointments, the Patient Association claims.

Responses from 3076 patients in polls and a survey showed that 79.2% did not feel safe relying on out-of-hours GP services in a potentially urgent situation and 54.8% were not satisfied with out-of-hours services received in the past 2 years.

Primary Care: Access Denied? also states that 83.8% of patients had to wait more than 24 hours and 60.5% more than 48 hours for a GP appointment, while 37.6% were unable to book a GP appointment more than 48 hours in advance. Over half (57.4%) of patients felt booking a GP appointment was "very difficult" or "could have been easier," the report states, noting that many have to take time off work for appointments.

"We need an NHS in every community that operates effectively, safely and compassionately during and outside office hours. Keeping people out of hospital and living independent, healthier lifestyles means delivering more integrated and accessible community based care," said Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association. The report lays out a "call to action" that includes NHS Commissioning Board review of all emergency care including primary care services, a joint strategy to expand primary care choice and access to services, and improved awareness of the full range of services available, such as walk-in clinics and NHS 111.

RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada reacted angrily to the report in a press statement: "This is another disappointing and extremely demoralising report from the Patients Association."

She noted: "GP out of hours services have been generally good in PCTs where there has been appropriate funding and monitoring, and GP out of hours services have performed consistently better against national quality standards and targets than A&E departments that are considerably better funded."

medwireNews is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Lynda Williams, Senior medwireNews Reporter