Primary and urgent care survey - urgent care conclusion

There is generally a good awareness of the main urgent care options, with GP surgeries during opening hours, NHS 111 and pharmacy being very high (at over 85%).

There was less awareness of the A&E and Minor Injuries Units, although this varies by locality – people were aware of their local A&E.

Half of our sample had an urgent care need either for themselves or someone they cared for.  The majority went to their GP surgery during opening hours. Just under half went to A & E, more than those who contacted 111.  Nearly as many people went to their pharmacy as to the out of hours doctors.

The survey findings suggest that people are making decisions on the basis need, and prioritised the capacity of the service to provide the right kind of care, when choosing where to go, followed by knowing whether it was open, proximity and not knowing where else to go.

Although three quarters of the sample felt they had sufficient information to choose the right urgent care service, nearly a fifth attended services because they didn’t know where else to go.  Of those who felt they did not have enough information, a higher proportion were from White Other background, and those with sensory impairments.

It is not the intention, nor possible to assess whether the use of urgent care was appropriate or not – we did not ask people for details of their condition. The questions were to find out what people prioritised and how they made the decision. We do know how worried people were, and how confident they felt they were in the right place.

The survey implies that some of the urgent care use is driven by perceived, or actual gaps in primary care.

Feedback about the services was generally positive however there were criticisms of 111 – particularly about having to answer what felt like irrelevant questions, and delays.

A range of suggestions were made for urgent care including having more information about waiting times. Other issues not explored in depth here are delays and waits for hospital appointments, poor co-ordination and comments about management and investment in the NHS.

We looked at the findings to see how particular groups faired including people with disabilities and long term conditions, older and younger people, gender and ethnicity.

More people with long term conditions were higher users of both primary and urgent care, and those of working age were least happy with the current opening times.  More people with sensory impairment felt they did not have sufficient information about services. Older people were less happy in using digital technology, travelling to other practices, and to use extended opening times. People from the White Other group were more interested in video and texting rather than phone calls from the GP, and felt they lacked information about where to go.

Next: conclusion from other comments >