GP satisfaction dropping in Northamptonshire as NHS battles to cope with ‘unprecedented demand’

Satisfaction with GP services in Northamptonshire has dropped, new figures show

By Kevin Nicholls & Will Grimond, Data Reporter
Monday, 25th July 2022, 9:58 am

Satisfaction with GP services in Northamptonshire has dropped, new figures show, as demand rises to “unprecented levels”.

Each spring, NHS England and market research company Ipsos Mori survey patients across England on how they feel about their local GP services.

Between January and April more than 700,000 people responded, including 9,234 patients in the NHS Northamptonshire CCG area.

GPs in Northamptonshire say they are facing unprecedented demand for their services

Results show 69.6 percent of people in the area would describe their GP experience as ‘good’ – down from 82.3 percent in spring 2021, and also worse than in 2020.

The survey further found that 36.6 percent of people with long-term health conditions do not feel they have had enough support from local services – up from 27.6 percent last year.

A spokesperson for NHS Northamptonshire Integrated Care Board revealed: “Between April 21 and March 22 over 4.2 million appointments were offered in General Practice across the county.

"This is higher than pre-pandemic levels but over the course of the past 12 months we have experienced unprecedented demand within General Practice and we recognise this has often led to patients feeling frustrated.

"We are extremely proud of our local GP practices who have done a remarkable job adapting their services during the course of the pandemic to maintain patient care in addition to delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme locally.

“As a county, we are committed to the health and care of our population, ensuring appropriate services are available based on a person’s needs, and are currently reviewing in detail the outcome of the 2022 GP Patient Survey to reflect on the results at borough level, at Primary Care Network level, and at individual Practice level.”

Results of the survey also also showed 15.9 percent of respondents in Northamptonshire had avoided booking a necessary GP appointment because they did not want to burden the NHS, and 9.4 percent because they did not want to risk catching Covid-19.

Beccy Baird senior fellow at independent think tank 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.

“Many of the challenges patients face accessing their GP stem from the chronic staff shortages that have plagued services for years.

“Practices can’t recruit enough GPs, nurses or other professionals to meet the rising levels of need, because in many cases those staff simply don’t exist.”

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Across England, satisfaction was at its lowest level on record, with 72 percent of respondents describing their overall experience as ‘good’ – down from 83 percent last year.

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, a membership body for the profession, said: “These findings reflect an over-stretched service, with GPs and our teams doing our best for patients under intense workload and workforce pressures.

“Ultimately, GPs, our teams and patients want the same thing – access to high quality and timely care – and we share patients’ frustrations when this can’t be delivered.”