GP practices join forces with Healthwatch Waltham Forest to listen to patients
Four GP practices in Walthamstow and Leytonstone joined forces with Healthwatch Waltham Forest to find out what patients think about the quality of service they offer.
Having initially approached 45 GP practices in autumn 2014, Harrow Road Surgery, St James Medical Practice, Hampton Medical Practice and The Bailey Practice all agreed to participate in our research.
Healthwatch Waltham Forest asked patients at the practices about their experiences, what works well and what could improve. Patients identified exceptional practice that really worked, including:
- Politeness, friendliness and helpfulness of staff. For example, at The Bailey Practice, all the employees were described as “very pleasant and friendly” and at Harrow Road, the receptionists were described as “very good and lovely”.
- Better and consistent customer service being offered by some staff doing the same job at the same practice, as opposed to others.
- 45% of patients at The Bailey Practice mentioning they appreciate the practice’s appointment drop-in booking system.
Patients across the practices also identified a number of areas for improvement, including:
- Being able to book an appointment conveniently and easily without unnecessary hassle. For instance, some patients at The Bailey were not fond of the practice’s drop-in booking system. At Harrow Road, the limited timeframe (8am or 2pm) that is allocated to appointment booking was also an area cited for improvements by patients.
- The long waiting period it takes to get a booking for a routine appointment.
- Employing more doctors so patients can be seen quicker, but at the same time patients expressed they appreciate the continuity of care offered when they see the same doctor.
All four practices have committed to reviewing the report recommendations and are committed to using the patient voice to drive improvements.
Jaime Walsh, Manager of Healthwatch Waltham Forest said, “We would like to congratulate these practices for their honest and open approach towards listening to their patients. We look forward to coming back and hearing about the collaborative developments between staff and patients working together to improve services at their practice.”
Dr Bailey of The Bailey Practice said, “Many thanks for undertaking this work in our surgery, it has been useful for staff to know they are valued and useful to have high lighted patient suggestions for improvement”. Based on the recommendations Dr Bailey added the practices commitment to exploring “ways of providing more appointments and longer opening times without compromising same day access and continuity of care which is highly valued by our patients”.
The aim of the research was to find out how patients view the services provided by the surgeries and how they can be improved. During our research, we looked into areas such as good care, communication, location, appointments and waiting times. In general, patients gave us mixed reviews for the practices.
In order to gain a robust patient voice, we made 24 visits to the surgeries, each lasting between 2.5 and 4 hours, and we spoke to more than 500 patients from various ethnic backgrounds and age groups.
Healthwatch Waltham Forest also conducted ‘Friends and Family Test’ pilot for two of the surgeries after they asked us to use it as baseline measurement for the new NHS obligation that was due come into effect in December 2014 across GP surgeries nationwide.
Upon completion of our research, each practice was given an individual report detailing feedback received from patients, with recommendations for change based on what patients told us.
It is worth noting that the reports reflect what the patients we saw told us about their surgeries. Their experience may not necessarily be reflective of all patient experience at that surgery or of other surgeries in the borough.