GPs hope to maintain positive patient experience alongside new ways of working

Leading GPs in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire hope the positive testimonies of patients revealed in a recent national survey can be replicated in the coming year.

The results of the 2020 GP Patient Survey were published earlier this month and showed people in the region generally had a more positive experience of their practice than those elsewhere in the country.

Eighty-five per cent of BSW patients said their overall experience of primary care was good, which is above the national average of 82 per cent.

Although the survey, which was carried out by research giant Ipsos Mori, took place before the Covid-19 pandemic, clinicians remain hopeful similar patient satisfaction can still be achieved in the coming year.

Dr Andrew Girdher, Clinical Chair, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire ICB, said: “While we are certainly pleased with these results, our focus now is to futureproof services so they remain accessible to patients, as well as manageable for staff, in the event of a possible second wave.

“To do this, we need to continue working in the new way that our teams have adapted to so quickly, with all but the most essential appointments taking place either by phone or video-call.

“So far, the feedback to this new approach has been positive, but it’s important to remember that further changes could come, and that staff will continue to do all they can during this unpredictable time to keep patients safe.

“But what’s just as important is that patients continue to know that, regardless of coronavirus, their GP practice is still very much open, and the teams are still very much keen to hear from anyone concerned about their health.”

While the survey also showed around three quarters (72 per cent) said it was easy to contact their practice by phone, this has not been the case for all patients.

Five practices in Swindon previously under the management of a private provider scored poorly in this area due to the introduction of a now-defunct centralised call handling system.

Now teamed up with new local providers, each practice handles its own incoming calls, and feedback from both patients and the Care Quality Commission, which is the national healthcare regulator, has shown improvements have been made.

Such improvement work will continue over the coming year, as will new methods of providing care, such as the recent drive-thru appointment system at Priory Road Medical Centre in Swindon, which could be reintroduced to provide socially distant flu vaccinations.

Patients are reminded that, while practices remain open, first contact should always be made by telephone, at which point the most appropriate appointment type will be offered.

Any person with concerns about their health, especially those showing symptoms that could be the early warning sign of a serious condition such as cancer, should not hesitate in contacting their GP practice.

The full results of the GP Patient Survey can be seen online at