GP communication more important than extended access

A new study published in the British Journal of General Practice has revealed that patient experience of general practice is most influenced by the attention and communication they receive from their GP.

Carried out by Imperial College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the research analysed the opinion of patients from over 8,000 practices, and found that GPs providing enough time for patients, including listening, explaining tests and treatments, involving patients in decision making and treating them with care, were most strongly associated with a patient’s overall experience.

This compares with the less favoured opening hours and appointment making process, with the paper finding that patient experience of GP interpersonal quality of care 40 per cent greater than that of making appointments and satisfaction with opening hours were only 'modestly associated' with overall experience.

Professor Azeem Majeed, head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London and a GP in south London, said: “There has been a lot of focus from the Government on extended hours schemes. However, our research suggests patients’ satisfaction with GP services is more influenced by the quality of care and attention they receive from GPs. Extending GP opening hours is also not cost-effective. We should aim to improve access to primary care and the quality of services patient receive during normal opening hours by addressing problems with shortages of GPs and a lack of investment in GP services, rather than investing in extended opening hours schemes.”

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