Yesterday, the Health and Social Care Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Thérèse Coffey outlined in the Government’s ‘Our plan for patients’ expectations for all patients who need an appointment to receive one within two weeks and that the patients with the most urgent needs should be seen on the same day. The Government announcement also includes a support package for general practice to help improve access to appointments.
According to the latest national figures for Somerset, as of July 2022:
- 272,565 appointments were provided by our 64 practices
- 43% of patients had an appointment on the same day of booking
- 70% of patients had an appointment within 7 days
- 82.6% of patients had an appointment within two weeks
- 49% of appointments were face to face
And in the 2022 national GP patient survey, 76% of patients surveyed in Somerset said their overall experience of their GP service was good. (This is higher than the national average of 72%.)
Dr Bernie Marden , NHS Somerset’s Chief Medical Officer says:
“We know how much patients value timely, convenient access to primary care, the front door to the NHS. General Practice teams in Somerset are working incredibly hard to meet the needs of our patients during what has been a challenging year.
“We are pleased that over 80% of our patients are already being offered an appointment within the new government expectation of two weeks. And from 1st April 2022 to 31st August 2022 there were 6289 Referrals into community pharmacies for patients to access the NHS Somerset GP Community Pharmacy Consultation Service for a range of minor conditions, enabling our GPs to prioritise care for patients with more complex medical needs.
“The public can help us achieve these ambitions by:
- cancelling appointments, they aren’t able to attend so they can be offered to other patients in need of care. (As of July 2022, 22,497 face-to-face GP appointments were missed by patients in Somerset in the previous 12 months)
- using our NHS Somerset GP Community Pharmacy Consultation Service which offers patients a same-day appointment for over 40 minor conditions at a community pharmacist of their choice, when they are offered an appointment for this service by their surgery
- seeing the right health care professional when they need a general practice appointment. In many cases, patients can be seen by highly qualified paramedics, pharmacists, physiotherapists, advanced nurse practitioners and physician associates who are based at the practice, rather than patients waiting to see a GP
“We welcome the government’s announcement that it will free up funding for practices to employ more staff, improve phone systems and develop a greater role for community pharmacy. We are already taking action in all these areas and will continue to support our practice teams to deliver the best possible care.”