Health Minister Ben Bradshaw today (16 July 2008) praised practice staff for listening to their patients and improving access, following publication of the second annual GP Patient Access Survey, which reveals improvements in patient satisfaction and experience.
The minister (pictured) said: "The survey results are a real measure of success for those GPs and their staff who have listened to what their patients think and who have responded with even better access to GP appointments. I congratulate those practices."
However, despite 82% of patients saying they were happy with their practice's current opening times, Mr Bradshaw said improvements still needed to be made.
"The NHS now needs to respond to what this latest data is telling us," he said. "It is clear patients increasingly need access to primary care at more convenient times.
"Since the survey took place, over a quarter of GP practices have begun to offer extended opening hours, and from 2009 the 152 new GP-led health centres around the country will continue to improve provision."
National Director for Primary Care, Dr David Colin-Thome said: "The higher ratings for those GP practices who responded to their patients' views are a huge appreciation of their services."
However, he added: "As ever, we can improve further and I would urge any GP or practice team member that has not already done so to review my and Professor Mayur Lakhani's recent reports on improving access to consider how they can apply or improve on the recommendations made."
Last year, a report chaired by Professor Lakhani, No Patient Left Behind: How can we ensure world class primary care for Black and Minority Ethnic people?, identified reasons for lower satisfaction with GP access among patients from some BME groups, and ways to improve this.
Dr Colin-Thome led the Report of the National Improvement Team for Primary Care Access and Responsiveness, which identified best practice in improving the accessibility of GP services.
Both reports are available at the Department of Health's primary care website, below. Practice managers can also access the results of the GP Patient Access Survey on the NHS Choices website to find out how their practice compares to others locally.
Related story: Most patients still satisfied with GP access, finds survey
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"If we had listened to what our patients think and want we wouldn't have had to implement this blooming stupid policy. 94% of our patients were happy with our access in our last survey so we make a change like this? Stupid, totally stupid" – Dave Holmes, Grimsby