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Patients value doctors politeness more than seven-day GP access

Friday 11th March 2016
Patients are more concerned with doctors politeness than whether they can access their services seven days a week. Image: Brankica Tekic
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Patients are more concerned about whether or not their GP is polite than whether or not they can access their local doctors' services seven days a week, a new survey has found.

Research conducted by doctors at the University of Lincoln has led to the discovery that having medical records close to hand and knowing important information about a patient without having to be told are both rated higher up patients' priority lists than having seven-day access to a GP.

Also valued more highly was doctors listening carefully to individuals' problems, as well as polite and helpful reception staff.

The investigation involved around 1,500 patients from 174 doctors' surgeries in the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and the East of England, who were asked to rate how satisfied they were with the quality of care they received from their GP, as well as which aspects of the services they valued most.

Dr Coral Sirdifield, lead author of the report, explained: "Areas relating to GP surgery access such as extensive opening hours, practice proximity and short waiting times were given higher rankings based on what the patients actually experienced, but were not rated as highly when it came to how important they were to patients. This suggests that focusing on these areas is less likely to increase patient satisfaction."

Instead, the report's findings suggest that doctors should focus their efforts on making sure that expectations meet reality across all areas of GP care, with the researchers hoping that the results will be passed on to Clinical Commissioning Groups to help them to make better-informed decisions about what patients want and need.

It also suggests that the government and health authorities do not need to focus as much on introducing seven-day GP care, as this is not necessarily want patients require most.

However, areas where patients wanted care to improve included access to out of hours appointments and getting the chance to be more closely involved in decisions about their own treatment.

Written by James Puckle

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