English patients are mostly positive about their GPs

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  21 Jun 2012

Most patients in England are happy with the way their GP handles consultations and trust their doctor, the annual GP patient survey for 2011-12 has found.

The survey of more than a million patients in England (38% response rate), conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Department of Health, found that most respondents thought their GP was good at listening (88%), gave them enough time for their consultation (87%), treated them with care and concern (84%), explained tests and treatments (83%), and involved them in decisions about their care (76%).

Nearly all (93%) trusted and had confidence in their GP, as was the case in the 2010-11 survey (94%), with very few (4%) saying that they did not trust their doctor.

Most patients (88%) rated their overall experience of their general practice as good, with a similar proportion (82%) saying that they would recommend their practice to someone who had just moved to the local area.

These findings are somewhat more positive than those of two recent surveys of the general public’s satisfaction with the NHS. The British social attitudes survey, conducted by the King’s Fund after the Department of Health withdrew its financial support last year, found that public satisfaction “with the way in which the NHS runs nowadays” fell from a peak of 70% in 2010 to 58% in 2011.[1]

The health department’s own survey of public perceptions of the NHS and social care found that although 70% of respondents were satisfied with the running of the NHS—the same proportion as in December 2010—the proportion who were dissatisfied had risen from 14% in 2010 to 17% in 2011.[2] Nevertheless, 83% said that they were satisfied with their most recent visit to a GP.

The annual GP patient survey also asked respondents for their views on accessing GP services, making an appointment, waiting times, opening hours, and out of hours services.

Four fifths (79%) of patients said that their overall experience of making an appointment at their general practice was good, with 93% stating that they were able to get a convenient appointment.

Three quarters (78%) found that it was easy to get through to someone at their GP surgery on the phone, but only 5% were happy with speaking to their GP on the phone rather than having a face to face consultation.

A quarter (24%) of patients said that they had to wait “a bit too long” to see their doctor after their appointment time, and 8% said that they had waited “far too long.” Half of patients (58%) usually waited between five and 15 minutes after their appointment time to be seen, and a quarter (24%) waited more than 15 minutes.


  1. Torjesen I. Public’s satisfaction with NHS fell by 12% in 2011. BMJ  2012;344:e4091.
  2. Department of Health. Surveys published on public perceptions of the NHS and social care, and NHS staff attitudes. 12 Jun. [Link] .

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers


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