Primary and urgent care survey - getting appointments

Nearly half of the 4,300 comments made referred to GP practices, and these are explored in the different sections below.  Many of the comments were about appointments, especially frustration of not being able to get an appointment, the process of trying to get an appointment, and the need for extended hours.

A substantial number of the comments were about problems accessing routine appointments, and being asked to call back for an urgent appointment first thing in the morning.  This was particularly inconvenient for people who work, or have school age children.  People felt reluctant to take ‘on the day appointments’ as they felt they were taking an appointment from someone who had an emergency or more urgent need.

I object to having to wait 4 weeks for an appointment .If nothing else people with a chronic condition should be able to get quickest appointments or it leads to potential escalation of the condition which in turn adds to the burden of the whole NHS system. Being told to just come down if it’s an emergency does not cover above as the condition needs managing and people do not want to stop those with emergency from getting treated.

Improve the capacity for appointments for non-urgent cases at GP practice.  I don't mind having to wait a few days but to have to ring at 8am every day and be 'no. 49' in a queue only to be repeatedly told there are no appointments left is very frustrating and disappointing.

At my Doctor's you have to ring between 8 and 9 and always get the  engaged tone. If I ring I need an appointment that day.

More flexibility in making appointments especially non-urgent ones, so I don't need to take time off work in case I can get appointment. Not having to ring at 8:00, it is so hard  as I am also trying to get kids out to school and get ready for work.

My GP falls between two stools with appointment making. If I book a pre-bookable appointment, it can take 2-3 weeks, but if I try to ring after eight for a same day appointment: 1. It is very difficult to get through. 2. If I am offered a same-morning appointment, it may be too soon to get there from 7 miles away. Conclusion: No allowance is made for me being a carer for an elderly relative in a different town.

Please improve waiting times at doctors surgery for an appointment. I have had to wait 2 weeks to get a blood test done at my surgery and 3 weeks  for an appointment with the GP who has been treating me for my conditions that was diagnosed in January of this year

A further 150 comments were about appointments running late, and waiting times at the GP surgery.  People described waiting over 30 minutes to an hour and this was particularly difficult for people with young children or those with anxiety disorders, as well as those who were taking time out of work to wait, and those concerned about infections from other patients.

It would be most helpful if we could keep to the appointment times.  I find that waiting for 20 minutes or more very stressful and I’m sure puts my blood pressure up considerably.

Have longer allocated appointments at GP practices (I believe each patient is allocated around 12 minutes at my practice). Over the years they seem to have got shorter, which means that I usually have to wait at least 20 minutes past my actual appointment time, because the GP runs over for every appointment, because they often do not have enough time to spend with a patient

Stick to appointment times, it is very frustrating that appointments always run late. Occasionally is understandable but when it is every time there must be something wrong with the system.

[The] surgery is full of sick people and you always have to wait at least 30/40 mins which puts me off going as you catch more than you've got.  My appointment being on time would help!

Some people wanted to have longer appointments to discuss more complex issues or more than one problem.

GP appointment times are short and GPs are sometimes not willing to talk about more than one problem during the consultation meaning you have to book another appointment which is not always easy to do and can add extra worry.  Maybe it would help if it was possible to book a double appointment to allow extra time to discuss problems?

Allocate more time for the GP to read history notes for the patient to understand the needs of the on-going care or treatment for that patient. Quite often an appointment is cut short due to allocated time being exceeded. This undermines the confidence of the success of the treatment or the advice being provided. My own GP mostly gives that extra time which is why appointments run late, but I don't mind waiting as I understand and accept the reason.

Next: continuity - seeing the same GP >