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Satisfaction with GP care falls in Wales

GP leaders blame underinvestment and workforce shortages

Caroline White

Friday, 22 June 2018

Patient satisfaction with GP care in Wales has fallen over the past year, reveal figures from the 2017-18 National Survey for Wales, published earlier this week.

The survey, which entails face to face interviews with a representative sample of 11,000 adults, shows that although most (86%) of respondents said they were satisfied with the care they had received from their GP, this represented a fall of 4% on last year’s figure (90%).

More than four out of 10 (42%) said they found it difficult to make a convenient appointment at their surgery, a rise of 4% on the equivalent figure for 2016-17 (38%). This proportion has steadily increased over time from 33% in 2012-13.

The responses echo similar declines in public satisfaction with GP care in England. The latest National Centre for Social Research’s British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey results, published earlier this year, showed that satisfaction with general practice dropped by 7 percentage points in 2017 to 65%, the lowest level since the survey began in 1983.

"These figures are obviously concerning. They will be disappointing for GPs who are working extraordinarily hard in extremely difficult circumstances,” commented Dr Rebecca Payne, RCGP Wales chair.

But she blamed underinvestment in primary care. "We need to be clear that this a result of workforce shortages and underinvestment in general practice. They provide further evidence that the Welsh government needs to take action,” she insisted.

"We need to see specific measures to boost the workforce, including alleviating workload pressures to help keep GPs in the profession, increasing GP training places, and developing a wider general practice team with other healthcare professionals,” she said.

She continued: "We also need to see a significant shift in resource. Welsh general practice receives a lower share of NHS spend than anywhere else in the UK and this needs to be urgently addressed. Only last week we had the latest plan committing to allowing patients to access more care in their community, it will only be achieved with more support for general practice.”

The lack of resource was having “a direct and negative impact on patient care,” she said.

Public satisfaction with hospital care is also on the decline. The percentage of survey respondents who said they were satisfied with their care at their last NHS hospital appointment has fallen from 92% in 2014-15 to 90% in 2017-18.

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