Have your say in Europe's biggest healthcare survey

By Ben Fitzgerald - 3 January 2019

CommunityHealth

From this week, patients living in the South West are being given the opportunity to tell the NHS about their experiences of using services at their GP practice. The GP Patient Survey is inviting 2 million people aged 16 and over from more than 7,000 practices across England to take part.

The survey provides detailed information about the range of ways people interact with primary care staff and how good that experience is. It plays a key role in understanding what’s working and what needs to improve.  It is a key source of information for understanding the impact of recent changes introduced in primary care, such as extended opening hours and other initiatives, which were carried out in response to what patients said in previous years’ surveys.

Those who are randomly selected to take part will receive a letter over the next few weeks, along with the survey.  They can complete it – by post or online – until the end of March and there is a range of options to make it more inclusive for people who need support to help them take part. Their information is handled securely and no-one is identified when the findings are published.

Nikki Holmes, Head of Primary Care NHS England South West (North) said, “If you get a survey in January, please take part as it provides vital information to help improve local services and inform national decisions. You can help by encouraging other people you know to complete it, if they’re invited.”

“It is important for GP practices and for the wider NHS to find out what is working well and what needs improvement, so we can ensure that services keep getting better and are meeting the needs of patients.”

The survey asks not just about the care provided by GPs, but also about people’s experience of seeing other healthcare professionals such as on-site pharmacists, mental health specialists and practice nurses.  The survey aims to find out more about people’s experiences of using online services, telephone services and face-to-face appointments. It also looks at how much support people get with managing long-term conditions and medication.

Patients who are not invited to take part in this year’s survey can still provide useful feedback to their GP practice teams by filling in a Friends and Family Test (FFT) form at their practice any time. It is open to everyone, any time and every practice is involved. More than 1.2 million pieces of feedback on NHS-funded services are given this way every month and they help to continuously improve and take the pulse of healthcare across England, with nine in 10 patients who give feedback rating their experience positively.

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