Local people engaged in a survey to gather their views on access to Doncaster primary care services

Comments that access to GP services is an issue for Doncaster patients has been a common theme from patient feedback to Healthwatch Doncaster.

Working with NHS Doncaster CCG, Healthwatch Doncaster talked to over 1,500 local people about their experiences of accessing GP services. All the experiences and opinions that were shared have been analysed in a report.

Healthwatch Doncaster completed a two-month engagement programme listening to Doncaster people on their experiences of accessing GP services, resulting in service providers being informed to influence positive changes for local people.

It is evident from the information received that there is a variation in the services the people of Doncaster experience in relation to accessing GP services. Many people are happy with the services they receive; however 55% of respondents indicated they were not satisfied due to a range of different reasons.

Healthwatch Doncaster Engagement Team Manager Jill Telford said  “It has been very pleasing to receive the high numbers of comments from people in Doncaster, listening to stories about their GP experiences was impactful.

“Telephone access, patients waiting a long period to get an appointment and awareness of other health care services in Doncaster were the common outcomes from the stories received,” said Jill.

Selected data from people who completed an online or face-to-face survey showed that:

  • 50% stated that they were able to receive an appointment with a practitioner of their choice
  • 50% are not aware of the Same Day Health Centre
  • 64% are not aware of Saturday clinics at other practices
  • Nearly 40% were not aware of alternative appointments in GP services in the week or at weekends
  • 70% indicated that they got an appointment at a time that was convenient to them or the person that they accompanied.

The survey revealed that 50% of people accessing their GP services do so to request or collect a prescription – Healthwatch Doncaster recommends patients utilising digital avenues to access prescriptions, appointments, information and services available from GP practices, to help free up phone lines and positively influence this problem.

Many people are also unaware of alternative health provision; this is having an impact on them receiving an appointment to suit them or having to wait lengthy periods of time for an appointment.

Dr David Crichton, local GP and Clinical Chair, NHS Doncaster CCG said: “As a local GP, I welcome the findings from the GP access survey. Whilst we have seen a number of improvements made to the provision of primary care services in Doncaster over the last 12 months, we know there is more to be done to continue to improve access and experiences of care received.

“In October 2019, we launched a new campaign which aims to raise awareness of the wide range of services that exist in primary care, such as local pharmacy, Doncaster Same Day Health Centre and the GP out of hours service.

“The campaign also empowers patients to ask local practice staff about the ‘More Choice, More Appointments’ service, providing 160 hours of extra GP and nurse appointment time, available to all registered patients in Doncaster.

“In the coming months, the campaign will help address access issues, such as contacting local practices via the telephone.”

The full report is available here.