The Covid pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way we all use our GPs. Instead of phoning for an appointment or walking into a surgery, access to care changed almost overnight to online bookings and video and phone consultations.
The move to remote appointments has allowed GP practices to keep services running for millions of people. Remote consultations have made getting care quicker, more efficient and easier to fit around their lives for many people.
But, as this new national report makes clear, many people are struggling to access care from their GP practice, leaving them feeling frustrated and confused. Certain groups also risk being left behind, such as older people, disabled people, people affected by homelessness and on low incomes, and those whose first language isn’t English.
What does the report say?
Over 200,000 people contributed to the report which includes feedback from Medway residents about their experience of visiting their GPs since the pandemic started.
The report also details our research which showed that 26% of GP websites in Medway had no information about visiting the surgery safely, such as PPE.
Other headlines include:
- An increase in the number of people who find it hard to book GP appointments, including regular health check-ups and treatments, such as vitamin B12 jabs. Some people reported worrying symptoms they were experiencing due to not receiving vitamin B12 treatment – including extreme tiredness, confusion, low mood and hair loss.
- A lack of choice over types of appointments, especially for those who felt they needed face-to-face appointments, left some people worried their health issues were not accurately diagnosed. These problems were often more of a concern for disabled people, people with long-term health conditions, those without access to the internet and for anyone whose first language isn’t English.
- Consistent reports of homeless people being inappropriately asked for identification and proof of address when trying to register with their GP practice, leading to health issues remaining undiagnosed.
- Some elderly patients were advised to go online to book their flu vaccinations or order prescriptions without checking first whether it was a realistic option for them.