GP access praised in Suffolk

SUFFOLK patients are more satisfied than the national average when it comes to getting appointments with their GP, figures reveal today.

SUFFOLK patients are more satisfied than the national average when it comes to getting appointments with their GP, figures reveal today.

However, patients are not happy with the lack of GP practices which stay open on a Saturday.

In fact, 49per cent of people under 45, 58pc of people 45 to 64 and 82pc of people 65 or over said Saturday closure was the biggest bugbear they had with their GPs, compared to national figures of 34pc, 48pc and 71pc respectively.

The statistics have been published by the Department of Health after the biggest GP patient survey ever undertaken, involving 21,000 Suffolk patients.

The survey showed 91pc of Suffolk people are satisfied how easy it is to get through to their surgery on the phone, compared to 86pc nationwide.

And 91pc of people also said they were able to get appointments within 48 hours, compared to 86pc nationally.

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Satisfaction levels dropped when it came to opening hours, with 85pc saying they were satisfied with the GP, compared to 84pc across the country.

Bill Robinson is chief executive of the Suffolk Local Medical Committee, which represents GPs in the area.

He said: “These superb results come as no surprise to me, as the general practitioners in this county work very hard to provide their patients with the best possible care.

“Any intention to change or extend opening hours must have regard to the needs of the satisfied majority borne out by this survey and any extension of opening hours would require the government to invest more resources in general practice as well as all the other services required to support safe modern medicine in the surgery.”

The Suffolk Patient and Public Involvement Forum said a survey of 50 practices carried out last month said Suffolk had a “high quality” GP service.

However, it said there were problems with access, particularly getting through on the telephone first thing in the morning, booking appointments with chosen doctors and dissatisfaction with Saturday closures.

N Are you satisfied with accessibility to your GP? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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