Patients have given Isle of Wight GP practices the thumbs-up for services they provide – with many results exceeding the national average.
A healthy 82% rated their overall experience of their GP practice as good or better in the 2020 GP Patients Survey, with 6% saying it poor or worse, to exactly mirror the picture across all surgeries in England.
NHS England, which commissioned the annual survey, said that of 3,820 forms randomly sent out on the Island, 1,678 were returned. The 44% response rate was well above the 31.7% national average.
The survey was carried out from the start of January to the end of March 2020, with the deadline a week before the country went into lockdown on March 23 because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Nine out of 10 respondents praised the receptionists at their GP practice – marginally higher than the 89% nationally but at the top end of the range of scores of 84 to 92 in the region.
Some 68% said it was easy to get through on the phone, 3% higher than the national average, and 78% of patients said it was easy to use their practice website – 2% higher than the national figure. The regional results ranged from 71 to 81%.
Patients' overall experience of making an appointment got a 65% satisfaction rating, the same as the national figure – with 16% of island respondents saying it was poor, fewer than the average across the country. Regionally, the results varied from 49% to 74%.
Some 63% of patients said they were satisfied with the GP appointment times offered to them, the same as the national picture. Regionally, the results ranged from 49% to 70%.
84% of patients were happy that any mental health needs they had were being recognised and 76% said they received good or better support with managing their long-term conditions, disabilities or illnesses. Both figures were just 1% below the national ratings.
But there was much less awareness of the GP online services available on the island than across England with 38% of patients booking appointments on line (48% nationally); 34% ordering repeat prescriptions online (44%) and 19% assessing their medical records online (19%).
Of online services used in the year before the survey, 11% of patients had booked appointments online (18% nationally); 12% ordered repeat prescriptions (19%) and 6% had assessed their medical records (6%).
The Isle of Wight got higher satisfaction rates for NHS services when a patient's GP practice was closed, with most patients using phone help lines, their local pharmacist or the A&E department as an alternative.
Some 66% described as good or better the time taken to receiver care when their GP practice was closed, 3% higher than the English average; 92% said they had confidence and trust in the staff providing services when their GP practice was closed (91% nationally); and 73% said their overall experience of services was good or better when their GP practice was closed (67%).
Dr Michele Legg, GP and clinical lead for NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The results of the patient survey show there's a lot to be proud of, but we also know we cannot be complacent.
“We will all continue to strive to provide the best possible primary care services than we can for the patients we serve.
“Although the size of the survey is relatively small, it does give useful pointers and learning for where improvements can be made.
“Clearly we face challenges in making patients more aware of our online services, but in some parts of the country the responses can be greatly influenced by whether or not people have access to IT at home or are comfortable or feel competent using it.
“I am obviously pleased that our practices have, in general, been perceived to have performed above the national level in a number of key areas, but that doesn't mean we can – or will – rest on our laurels.
“Covid-19 has seen all practices across the island work more collaboratively together than ever before, and I would like to thank all staff, both clinical and those behind the scenes, for their outstanding efforts during these testing times. I think this fact has been recognised by the public too.
“All island practices use e-Consult and people are encouraged to visit their practice website and use this tool to access primary care. You can of course call your practice too. In both instances you will be offered a virtual consultation, and if needed a face-to-face appointment.”