Patient survey shows true challenges and strengths of general practice, and proves need for new investment

Thu, 9 August 2018

National Voices welcomes the redesigned survey of general practice patients, and highlights the key indicators for good patient experience of care.

National Voices today welcomed the ‘highly significant’ results of the redesigned survey of general practice patients.

Don Redding, Director of Policy, who was an independent adviser on the new questions, said:

“These direct reports from three quarters of a million recent patients show general practice challenged by huge demand from people with single or multiple long term conditions, including mental illness. But many of those patients report very good experiences.

“The snapshot shows general practice as the place where multiple needs are recognised and dealt with in the same place, with good patient engagement and the opportunity to develop tailored or personalised care.

“General practice, joined up with social, community and voluntary sector care, is the key to the future design of care. These should be the main priorities for the new NHS funds for investment.”

Among the indicators of a good experience that National Voices highlights are:

  • 61% of respondents said they were definitely as involved as they wanted to be in decisions about their care – five per cent higher than for hospital inpatients or people using community health services
  • Almost nine out of ten patients for whom the question was relevant said their mental health needs were recognised and understood, which is unexpectedly high
  • Two fifths of people with long term conditions said they had the opportunity of a conversation about what is most important to them – the first step towards care planning

Among the indicators of the current state of the workload were that:

  • More than half of the patients had a long term condition or disability
  • Only a third (29.6%) of these patients were fully confident to manage their condition, and 16% were not confident
  • 9% of respondents had a long term mental health condition; but more than a quarter of all patients indicated that it was important to have their mental health needs recognised
  • Nearly a fifth (18.7%) of all patients were regularly taking five or more medications

Don Redding said:

“There’s clearly room for further improvement in patient engagement, support for self-management, and converting ‘conversations’ into fully developed personalised care plans. With investment, and a new contract that rewards quality improvement in these areas, general practice will be the cornerstone of helping people to manage their lives with long term conditions.”