TELEPHONE and video consultations during the pandemic were a source of “frustration” for patients, a survey by Hywel Dda Community Health Council has found, with residents in Ceredigion also highlighting struggles to get in contact with their GP surgery to book an appointment.
Hywel Dda Community Health Council (HDCHC) said that “following the number of concerns received over the past year on access to Primary Care Services, our Executive Committee agreed to undertake a project asking the public about their experiences of contacting their GP practice.”
The project ran between September 2021 and March 2022.
HDCHC received 75 responses from residents in Ceredigion and its report “heard that it has been a struggle for many to get through to their GP practice by phone, especially first thing in the morning.”
“We heard of people waiting for long periods of time in the GP telephone queuing system or trying numerous times to get through.
“Looking at the data much depended on which practice they were registered with as some patients got through to their GP Practice far more easily than others.
“People told us that, on occasions they were dissatisfied with the whole experience of trying to get through to the practice.”
While some people “were happy with telephone consultations” through the pandemic, “others found it hard to adapt feeling uneasy at not having face-to-face conversation and having doubts about the diagnosis,” the survey found.
“General practice is usually the first point of contact for people accessing NHS services,” HDCHC said in the survey report.
“The importance and value of their vital work during the pandemic should be recognised.
“At the same time, it is true that patients’ ability to access general practice is often not as good as it should be, with some patients experiencing unacceptable poor access, including not being able to contact practices for days as highlighted in the responses to our survey.
“We have learned that most people who tried to access GP practices found it to be challenging, particularly first thing in the morning and for the more routine appointments.
“We learned that while remote appointments were more convenient for some, they didn’t meet everyone’s needs, with some patients left ‘worried that their health problems would not be accurately diagnosed’.
“For people with hearing/sight impairment, they could find telephone consultations difficult.
“Changes to the way that people accessed general practice services during the pandemic caused some frustration for those who preferred face-to-face appointments.”
There are currently 12 GP practices in Ceredigion.
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