Booking appointments with a GP is getting more difficult, data reveals
Almost one in 10 patients said they never or almost never get to see the GP of their choice.
The proportion of people who find it easy to get through to their GP surgery on the phone is declining, figures show.
New data from more than 800,000 patients in England reveals that some people still struggle to book appointments and fewer are seeing their preferred GP.
However, overall satisfaction with GPs remains high, with 85% of people rating their experience as good. Some 92% also had confidence and trust in the last GP they saw.
When asked how difficult it is to get through to someone at their GP surgery on the phone, 68% said it was was easy, while 18% said it was not very easy and a further 10% said it was not at all easy.
This shows a decline on the previous year, when 70% found it easy. In 2012, 78% of people found it easy to get through on the phone.
People were also asked how often they see or speak to their preferred GP, of which 383,770 people answered the question.
Of these, 56% see their preferred GP always or a lot of the time, down from 58% the previous year and 65% in 2012.
Almost one in 10 patients (9%) said they never or almost never get to see the GP of their choice, down from 8% the previous year and 6% in 2012.
Of the 84% people who got an appointment the last time they tried, 38% got it on the same day, 10% the next working day, 28% a few days later and a fifth waited a week or more, up slightly on last year.
But three-quarters of people (76%) are satisfied with GP opening hours, with fewer than one in 10 (9%) fairly or very dissatisfied.
When it comes to using NHS services when a GP surgery is closed, such as the 111 helpline or out-of-hours services, 66% said their last experience was good, down slightly on the previous year, while 15% said it was poor.
Dr Arvind Madan, director of primary care for NHS England, said: “General practice is the foundation of the NHS and this survey shows patients appreciate the fantastic job GPs and the wider primary care work force are doing in times of real pressure with more patients having increasingly complex conditions.
“Access to GPs is already expanding with 17 million people now able to get an appointment in the evening and at weekends, and everyone will be able to by March 2019.”