Accessible care

Good access to general practice is important to everyone. It’s important to patients who may be distressed or who may suffer if diagnosis and treatment is delayed; those who value a continuous relationship with their clinician in order to remain healthy and independent; and people who find it hard to see a GP within current opening times.

It’s important to practices whose workloads can become inefficient if access is not managed systematically. It’s important to the NHS as good access to primary care has the potential to reduce unnecessary emergency admissions and reduce the number of patients attending A&E.

  • Currently it is estimated that 10 – 30% of walk in patients to A&E could be treated in a primary care setting.
  • We will make it easier for patients to get help from a GP or other health professional by making primary care services available seven days a week, 12 hours a day in their local area, for pre-bookable and urgent appointments.
  • This will mean less people attending A&E inappropriately relieving some of the pressure in this part of the system.
  • This will also improve people’s experience of primary care as only 50% of people currently think GP services are easy to access.

What do our standards say?

  • That all patients should be able to speak to a GP or senior nurse the same day (this may mean a phone conversation with a GP – usually within an hour but with a guarantee of same day)
  • That patients will only make one call, click or contact in order to make an appointment (not be asked to call later to see if any appointments are available then)
  • Routine appointments bookable on Saturday morning (8-12.30am) for all patients
  • Practices open 8 am to 6.30pm 5 days a week for pre-bookable appointments
  • Urgent appointments available 8am to 8pm 7 days a week in the local area
  • Online services to be promoted to book appointments, order prescriptions, view medical records and email
  • Positive promotion of phone consultations
  • All patients will be registered with a named GP who will have responsibility for their overall care
  • Patients will be able to book at least four weeks ahead with their named GP (or another member of the team)
  • Practices will provide flexible appointment lengths