Unsustainable pressure on GPs has led to dip in patient satisfaction, says BMA

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  07 Jul 2017

Unsustainable pressure on GP services and increasing GP workloads have led to a decrease in patient satisfaction with the service, the BMA has said.

The latest figures from NHS England’s GP patient survey showed a slight decline in the proportion of patients who rated their overall experience of their GP surgery as good, down from 85.7% in 2016 to 84.8% in 2017.[1] The survey received responses from 808 332 patients after 2 157 769 questionnaires were sent out nationally, a response rate of 37.5%.

It found that the proportion of patients who would recommend their GP to someone who had just moved to their local area had decreased by 1.1 percentage points since 2016, down from 78.5% to 77.4%. The proportion of patients who rated their overall experience of making an appointment as good had also fallen, from 74.0% to 72.7%.

The proportion of patients who found it easy to get through to their GP surgery by telephone fell from 69.9% in 2016 to 68.0%. And the proportion who had a good experience with their out-of-hours service fell from 67.9% in 2016 to 66.2%, the survey found.

Richard Vautrey, acting chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said that the findings reflected “the growing impact from the unsustainable pressures facing general practice.”

He said, “It is reassuring that patients continue to have a high level of trust in doctors and satisfaction with the care they receive, but, with the NHS at breaking point, the government must implement a long term, sustainable plan to ensure that there are enough GPs to see patients in need of care as promptly as possible.”

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said that the findings were the result of “a decade of underinvestment in general practice which has led to a severe shortage of GPs.”

“Today alone, there will be over one million patient consultations in general practice with 370 million patient consultations per year—60 million more per year than even five years ago,” she said. “GPs are working flat out to provide care for as many patients as we possibly can, but there are limits beyond which we can no longer guarantee safe care.”

Stokes-Lampard said that the survey results showed how much patients value general practice and that the service should be protected.

“We need the pledges in NHS England’s GP Forward View[2]—which includes an extra £2.4bn a year for general practice and 5000 additional GPs—to be delivered as a matter of urgency so that our patients can see a GP when they need to and receive the quality care they deserve,” she said.


  1. NHS England. GP patient survey 2017: aggregated data for January 2017 to March 2017. 6 July 2017. [Link] .
  2. NHS England. General practice forward view. April 2016. [Link] .

Abi Rimmer BMJ Careers


Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: