Local PCTs Ranked Amongst Country’s Worst Performers

Survey places Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersith & Fulham in bottom 20%

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Although nationally more patients are claiming to be “completely satisfied” with care in GP practices and health centres, the Healthcare Commission’s latest survey shows that this is not the case locally.

According to a major survey of primary care services, Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham PCTs were consistently ranked in the country’s worst performing 20%.

Between January and April this year, more than 69,000 people in England were asked about their experiences of GP practices and health centres and about access to dentists. The survey, coordinated for the Commission by the Picker Institute Europe, covered topics such as access to appointments, waiting times and patients’ relationships with NHS staff.

For the first time, the Commission released comparative scores for all 152 primary care trusts in England in order to help failing trusts to understand the views of their patients and respond to any concerns.

The results highlighted that access to GP services remains an issue. Patients should be able to see a GP within two working days or another primary care professional, such as a practice nurse, within one working day. However, just 44% of respondents found this to be the case in Hounslow making the PCT the lowest scoring trust in the country.

Anna Walker, the Commission’s Chief Executive, said, "People clearly do want to be able to see a GP more easily and at more convenient times. It was striking that some people could not get an appointment within two days and that there are variations around the country. It is clear that more people want to be able to book appointments several days ahead and that many want more flexible opening hours. In addition, a significant proportion of patients are not being offered a choice of hospital. These are issues that a modern 21st century health service really ought to be able to address.

“Access to NHS dental care is also a continuing concern and this survey shows where people are most worried about this around the country. Regular dental treatment is important for maintaining good oral hygiene. If a large proportion of people do not receive this treatment regularly, we could be facing a significant national health problem in years to come.

“Publication of this survey, with comparative information, will help trusts and GPs to address patients’ concerns. In assessing the performance of primary care trusts, we at the Commission will take account of patients’ views and ask questions about the issues raised. We recognise the national concerns about dental care and we will be highlighting gaps where they occur.”

August 11, 2008