Primary and urgent care survey - visiting other local GP practices

One of the key elements of the CCG’s Primary Care Strategy is for local GP surgeries to be able to work collaboratively and to share capacity. This might mean attending sessions at other nearby GP practices, or indeed having newly established local hubs or clinics locally.

We asked patients and the public how they would feel about attending a different local practice for the following scenarios:

For routine appointments

  • to see a doctor from your usual practice
  • to see a doctor from another practice
  • to see a doctor from another practice who is specialised in your condition
  • to attend a specialist clinic
  • for tests or treatment which would normally be done in hospital

For urgent appointments

  • to see your own doctor in a nearby practice
  • to see a different doctor in a nearby practice 

The responses can be seen in Figure 5 below (and Table A3 in Appendix 1).  The chart shows the responses with the most popular options first.

People were asked to rate them from not at all acceptable to ideal. There is clear endorsement for having a specialist clinic, hospital tests done locally, and seeing specialist doctors with nearly a third of respondents calling this ‘ideal’ and over 90% feeling this is acceptable in some measure (moderately acceptable, acceptable, and ideal).

There is some level of acceptance for seeing GPs in different practices for urgent, on the day appointments, especially for seeing their own GP.

There was little enthusiasm for having routine appointments with a GP from a different practice, with only half of all respondents accepting this and 20% saying it is not at all acceptable.

Figure 5: Acceptability of visiting a different local practice (see Table A3 in Appendix 1 for details)

A higher proportion of carers of children found going to another practice as acceptable for all scenarios.

A smaller proportion of people over the age 65 found it acceptable to go to another practice for all the scenarios than younger people and a higher proportion of younger people were happy to go to another practice. There was no significant difference between men and women in these scenarios.

Higher proportions of people with physical disabilities and long term conditions were less accepting of going to another practice for any of the scenarios compared with the general public. There was no difference relating to mental health.

As expected, those people who prioritised continuity with their GP (see the "continuity" section) were less likely to want to visit another GP practice.

Table 9: Distance willing to travel

Distance willing to travel for an appointment at another GP practice (n=5,932) Number Percent
Less than one mile   746 13
One to three miles   2,150 36
Four to five miles 1,355 23
Six to ten miles 713 12
More than ten miles 261 4
I am not willing to travel to another practice 707 12

Figure 6: Distance willing to travel

Twelve per cent (just over one in eight people) are not willing to travel to another practice, and half would travel less than three miles.

A quarter would travel up to six miles and 16% would travel more than six miles.  A higher proportion of carers of children were happy to travel than non-carers. As would be expected, there seems to be a relationship with age. A higher proportion of over 65s were less likely to be willing to travel (17%) or travel only one mile or less (15%).

Similarly, a higher proportion of people with physical disabilities are also less likely to travel to another surgery. Having said that, a third of the over 75s are happy to travel up to three miles, and a further 16% were happy to travel four-five miles.  A higher proportion of younger people were willing to travel further.

I am happy to see another GP at a different practice as long as they had all my records.

I don't drive so all this thing about going to a different practice would depend how far away it was and whether I could get there on public transport. I could take a taxi if it was urgent but I wouldn't want to be doing that all the time.;

The distance people were willing to travel also varied by locality.  Although the proportion of people who weren’t willing to travel at all stayed broadly the same (at 11-13%) the rural localities of Chichester and Chanctonbury showed more people willing to travel further than in the other localities.

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