In this series of articles, we give highlights from our report Pandemic Patient Experience II, which explores people's experiences during the latter part of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of the respondents to our Pandemic Patient Experience II survey had had their medical appointments cancelled or rescheduled.

Nearly two thirds of respondents (63%) reported that their booked medical appointments had been cancelled or postponed. Among the respondents who had had medical appointments booked since March 2020, only 24% had seen those appointments go ahead without either cancellation or delay. This finding didn’t surprise us, given the disruption to NHS services over the first year of the pandemic.

But we also found that different appointments had been changed once or more, and sometimes the same appointment was rescheduled many times – more than one in four patients who had experienced changes encountered them on this scale.

Delays and cancellations caused great concern among respondents, both in this survey and in the survey we ran last year. Over half (60% in 2020, 55% in 2021) were worried their health conditions would worsen because of lack of access to care.

The worry that services will be harder to access in the future was extremely widespread (70%). The emerging evidence about ongoing difficulties getting face-to-face GP appointments seem to bear this out and our respondents appeared to have seen this coming last year.

We also asked patients if their health and care needs had been supported overall during the pandemic. Only 44% said they had been, down from 53% in our 2020 survey, showing a worrying decline in patients’ perception of their care.