Results from the latest national GP patient survey published by NHS England last week, show that despite the growing demand on services, patients who responded described their overall experience of their GP practice as good.

The survey asks about patients’ local GP services (including use of online services, awareness and satisfaction with opening times and preferred GPs), experience of making an appointment, the quality of care at their last appointment, overall experience of their GP practice, experience when their GP practice is closed as well as current health circumstances.

Mean averages across mid and south Essex show; overall experience of GP practice – 78%; overall experience of making an appointment – 65%; How easy it is to get through on the phone? – 58%; enough support from local services or organisations to help you to manage your condition? – 71%

Nationally, COVID-19 saw the introduction of “Total Telephone Triage” meaning people had to call in and provide some health information on the reasons for needing care or advice. Whilst this did cause delays in contacting some GP surgeries, this was introduced to protect patients and staff from the risks of infection, delivering phone and video consultations where possible and make sure those with the highest needs were seen quickly as possible by a GP.

Everyone is urged to download NHS App and seek information on practice websites about local vaccination clinics to help free up phone lines and make access to GP practices easier for those most in need.

Primary care lead for mid and south Essex, William Guy, said:

“Latest data shows that nearly half a million (469,000) appointments took place across mid and south Essex in April 2021 alone. This is 6 per cent higher than this time last year. Around 60% of these have been face to face.

We recognise the frustration many people are encountering getting through on the telephone. We ask that everyone plays their part and access information or services in other ways where possible i.e. downloading the NHS App to obtain their vaccination status where possible.”

Across mid and south Essex, plans are in place to improve access to services through initiatives such as new roles including physios, paramedics and social prescribers. Over 250 additional professionals have been recruited over the past two years – with plans to recruit another 200 this year and more again in future years.

A Facebook Live event, hosted on the This Is Your Life Facebook page (6:30pm, 15 July), is also being held with the aim of explaining the pressures facing GP surgeries at present and everyone’s role in helping make sure we can all stay as healthy as possible and get the care we need when we need it.