GP survey branded ‘disappointing’ More ‘gloom’ to come for Tameside patients?

PATIENTS’ satisfaction of GP surgeries in the area is ‘going in the wrong direction’ after a health boss branded results of a latest survey ‘disappointing’.

Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group fared badly in the national GP Patients Survey 2020, with many good ratings below the national average and poor ones above.

Overall, positive ratings of practices and surgeries rated at 77 per cent in the area, compared with 82 per cent around the country.

Jessica Williams, director of commissioning at Tameside and Glossop CCG

And locally, 10 per cent described their rating as poor, while only seven per cent said so across the land.It also revealed those figures are going both down and up since 2018 – good down and poor up – leading Jessica Williams, director of commissioning at Tameside and Glossop CCG, to state: “Both in terms of good and poor, we’re going in the wrong direction.”

The local board also fared badly in more specific areas, with 44 per cent of people saying it was not easy to get through to their GP, compared with 35 per cent nationally.

It was also below the average when it comes to booking appointments online and the split of people offered a choice of appointment was 51-49 yes, as opposed to 60-40.

A quarter of respondents said their experience of making an appointment was poor while just 17 per cent said so across the country.

And 44 per cent said it took too long to receive care when GPs surgeries are closed compared with just 37 per cent nationwide.

Despite being at the national average, even above in some areas, the response from the CCG.

Despite being at the national average, even above in some areas, Jessica said of the survey, which was conducted in March: “Cutting to the nub of the issue is that this is a disappointing survey for us.

“It’s not as good as it was last year and certainly isn’t where we want to be. It’s something we’re going to have to try very hard to see if we can turn it around.

“It also makes me feel a little bit gloomy about the one we’re likely to get next year because there have been significant changes to the way practices work.

“The fact is our results are disappointing this year. They’re not as good as we’d like them to be. We’ve got to do a lot of work about it.”

Jessica also highlighted the issue of communication, adding: “We’ve really struggled to land the message that general practice is open throughout Covid.

“Every single practice has been open every single day throughout this crisis.

“We still are finding it difficult to land that message. General practice is open, it might be doing it a different way. There are lots of lessons to take forward.”

The results were given a negative assessment by Tameside councillors, with Teresa Smith saying: “When we look at those figures, they’re really, really concerning for our residents.”

A big issue was making sure everyone can access health care properly, with the issue of ‘digital poverty’ highlighted by Cllr Charlotte Martin.

However, a scheme to help those without access to smartphones, computers or the internet may be introduced.

Jessica added: “We need to work out what our communication strategy is. We keep saying general practice is open, please go then we’re told that it’s not happening and I worry hugely about this digital poverty issue.

“One idea may be supported pods around the borough so people who don’t have access to smartphones or technology can find a way to make sure they get the treatment they need without having to go to a surgery.

“We need to find other ways of supporting people to access care.”

The technology idea was well received at a meeting of Tameside Council’s Integrated Care and Wellbeing Scrutiny Panel.

However, Cllr Eleanor wills pointed out increasing reliance on computers, without assistance for some, may bring about a generation gap.

She said: “People from my generation have actually appreciated having the availability of access of digital appointments.

“But there are people like my parents who feel very much isolated from a GP they visited a lot prior to Covid.”

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