In February 2017, we published the results of our project that looked at the non-clinical patient experience at GP practices. We wanted to follow up on that project to find out what difference what we said had made.
What did we do?
In October 2016, 10 Healthwatch Bucks volunteers:
- Visited 47 individual GP surgery waiting rooms
- Viewed 55 GP surgery/practice websites and
- Called 61 GP surgery/practice when we knew they were closed to hear their out of hours message.
The aim was to understand what information was provided. We looked for good practice and to identify opportunities for low-cost improvements to the patient experience.
When the summary report was published, we wrote to each GP surgery/practice with a full breakdown of our findings and provided a “Good Practice Checklist”. We asked each surgery/practice to let us know what actions they would be taking to improve their information.
What did we discover?
We had replies from 26 practices/surgeries. Many replies gave us further information about the actions they had taken as a result of our recommendations. In summary:
- 15 said that they had made changes or planned to take action as a result of our findings
- 12 noted that they would be using our good practice guide
- 12 said that they had involved or would be discussing the results with their Patient Participation Groups (PPG) and
- 6 disagreed with elements of our findings or our approach.
What practices said they have done
The majority of practices that replied (15/26) provided more details of the changes they had made or actions they had taken. These included:
- improving the telephone answering messages and increasing the amount of information available on the website
- making information clearer
- having a new website and
- making changes to the waiting room and telephone systems
We welcome the positive response made by so many of the practices to our report.
We would encourage all practices to continue to use the “Good Practice Checklist” and to work with their PPGs to help identify what patients would find most helpful and convenient and where improvements can be made to the patient experience.