Can patients access emergency GP appointments in Birmingham?
Healthwatch Birmingham has published our latest report which indicates a wide variation in the management of emergency GP appointments across the city.
The report, Can patients with a clinical need access emergency General Practice appointments in Birmingham? highlights the continuing issues faced by patients trying to book to see their GP. It also identifies a wide variation in the allocation of such appointments by GPs across Birmingham.
After hearing initial feedback from patients and the public about the issue, Healthwatch Birmingham investigated further, listening to over 60 patients who shared their experiences with us. We presented cases to over 70 local GPs to understand whether symptoms warranted a same-day appointment. Our findings show marked differences in how individual GPs would have managed such cases and the actual experiences reported by patients.
Key findings and summary
- Over 60 patients shared their experiences about the difficulties they faced in getting an emergency GP appointment.
- Most of the cases we heard about from patients and members of the public warranted a same-day emergency appointment, according to GPs we talked to.
- However, only a small amount of patients reported that they actually obtained an emergency appointment.
- This means people with serious conditions are not able to access emergency GP appointments when they need it.
- GPs told us about the barriers to providing such appointments included high demand, low capacity and requests by patients with minor health issues.
- Some GPs have put in place effective solutions to manage such issues.
Read the full report here
Good access to GPs for patients is essential in addressing important health issues, ensuring it doesn’t lead to poorer health concerns and reduces the risk of patients having to seek alternative support services, which may be more costly. Improving access to primary care and reducing the differences between individual GPs is a key priority locally and nationally. Our report clearly shows that variations do exist, which is negatively impacting patients and the public.
Patients – share your views
Healthwatch Birmingham will continue to listen to patient’s experiences about this issue. Patients, the public, service users and carers can share their feedback via:
- Our online Feedback Centre
- Our Information and Signposting Line: 0800 652 5278
- Emailing: email@example.com
- Feedback can be shared anonymously.
Healthwatch Birmingham will be publishing follow up reports in Spring and Autumn 2017. We will present further feedback from patients about this issue and share best practice by GPs who have told us their suggestions and experiences in improving access to emergency appointments.
- Local data from the 2016 GP Patient Survey, which includes information about local demand and access in Birmingham can be found at https://gp-patient.co.uk/surveys-and-reports.
- NHS England’s General Practice Forward View includes information and plans to improve access to GPs: https://www.england.nhs.uk/gp/gpfv/.
- Healthwatch England’s report (November 2015) into people’s experiences of primary care summarises what people have been telling local Healthwatch, which includes their experiences of accessing GP appointments.