Results from the 2009 national patient survey will be used to drive changes to GP services and rewards for GPs who provide "fast, convenient services", the Department of Health (DH) has said today (Monday 5 January 2009).
The new survey, run for the third successive year, will include "wider questions", said Health Minister Ben Bradshaw (pictured). "Where patients identify areas for improvement, the local NHS will need to respond," he added.
The survey now includes questions on whether patients find receptionists helpful, if they have the option of telephone consultations, if they feel their problem is understood and how they rate the overall care they receive.
Patients are also asked to rate local out-of-hours care to ensure healthcare is easily accessible when they need it.
The DH said that patients' answers will continue to set the level of payments made to their GP practice for delivering access to GP appointments in two working days and for booking appointments in advance.
It also said that the expanded survey means the local NHS can link GP pay more closely to their patients' views "if this will improve care for patients".
Mr Bradshaw said: "The national GP patient survey last year gave five million people a chance to have their say on improving access to their GP. The NHS listened and responded, and now over half of GP practices are making it easier for their patients to book appointments later in the evening, earlier in the morning or at the weekend.
He added: "I hope everyone who receives a questionnaire will take the time to fill it in and help to drive improvements in healthcare by giving us an accurate picture of patients' experiences of local GP services."
Related story: New survey to probe patients in greater depth