Given the choice, how many patients requesting help from their GP would like a named clinician? The question matters because despite the well known clinical quality and patient satisfaction benefits, continuity is under threat.
The patient complaint is, “I can never see my own GP.” In many practices, patients may be offered a same day appointment with another doctor, or several weeks for one they name, even though that doctor is in the building. This is poor service, and wasteful of GP capacity as often a patient will see both.
The online askmyGP service allows us to test the question as each patient is offered a choice of “Anyone” or “Someone by name”. If the latter, a list of available GPs or other clinicians is presented, and the patient chooses. (You can see how on the Bramley Surgery demo site)
The result, with n=3063, is 70% say “Anyone” and 30% are divided among 6 available, the highest individual being 9%. (Data collected at Rydal practice, North London, March – June 2015. The practice sets which clinician is available each day, and does not promise to match the choice but usually does so)
What this means
The choices made by patients are good news for 3 reasons:
1. The majority choosing “anyone” makes it easier for the practice to manage the demand, giving a high degree of flexibility.
2. Allowing those with a preference to make a choice reduces rework and improves quality. An individual patient may make a different choice depending on the occasion or the concern.
3. The choices made show that no one individual is unduly loaded with work.
Allowing choice is welcomed by both practice and patients. Delivered through askmyGP it’s easy for patients and helps receptionists to allocate appointments appropriately.