More progress needed to improve GP access

May 9, 2023

Our new report shows that many local people have yet to feel the impact of recent changes intended to make getting a GP appointment easier.

Download the full report

Our 2022 investigation into access to GP services in Birmingham highlighted inequalities in primary care across the city, with patients in some areas facing severe challenges such as:

  • Difficulties getting an appointment
  • Lack of face-to-face appointments
  • Problems finding up-to-date information about accessing services

In response, NHS Birmingham and Solihull (NHS BSOL) has introduced a number of changes to address these issues, including:

  • 5% more appointments per week between 6.30pm and 8pm Monday to Friday
  • IT support for GP practices to improve booking procedures and access to patient records
  • Recruiting 480 more patient facing roles

While Healthwatch Birmingham acknowledges these moves, the feedback we receive shows that access to GP services still needs improving for some people. We will continue to listen to people’s experiences in order to monitor the impact of NHS BSOL’s work in this area and help GP services to provide timely access to appointments and treatment.

Commenting on the impact report, Healthwatch Birmingham Chair Richard Burden said:

‘Healthwatch Birmingham is pleased that NHS BSOL has recognised the issues local people have told us about when trying to access GP services. We also welcome the details about the improvements they are beginning to make.

However, it is clear from the feedback we continue to receive that much more needs to be done, with many people – including vulnerable patients and those in Birmingham’s most deprived communities – still experiencing significant problems.

This is not a situation unique to Birmingham. GP services across the country are working under extreme pressure. Healthwatch Birmingham will continue to monitor and support NHS BSOL in their efforts to improve local GP services, while calling for urgent policy change at a national level to ensure the dedicated primary care staff working in local communities have the resources they need to deliver the high quality care the people relying on them rightly expect.’

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