Most patients do not have a preference over which doctor they see, with convenient appointment times rating more highly than the ability to choose a specific GP.
A study by consumer association Which? found that 67% of patients were happy to see any doctor provided they could easily access their medical records. Of those who had seen a GP in the last year, just over half (52%) had seen the same doctor for their last three visits.
Asked why they did not always get to see the same doctor, 32% said it was the norm, while 29% said it was to get a quicker or more convenient appointment.
The study was carried out in a bid to see what patients thought of plans for new polyclinics, which form part of Lord Darzi's review of the NHS.
Campaign manager for Which? Miranda Watson said: "Our research highlights that while seeing the same doctor is important, when people simply don't have time to plan ahead or take any time off work, other considerations such as getting an appointment quickly and at a convenient time become more important.
"The government needs to ensure that any new provisions reflect the needs and varying priorities of patients depending on their age, area and circumstance."
"I'm intrigued by who Which? asked. Many patients, esp those with long-term conditions generally, want to see the same doctor, but infrequent attenders or those who need to see a doctor immediately are more concerned with availability of appointments" – Barry Wiles, Clifton Medical Centre