London, 10th July: A survey commissioned by the Patients Association has revealed significant challenges in accessing care, reinforcing the charity's calls to fix the crisis in healthcare and improve patients’ access to the services they need to live well. 

·       Three out of ten (30%) people have struggled to access GP appointments in the past six months             

“I have not seen a GP face to face in nearly 2 years. So, I have given up and just suffer in silence.”

·       Only 13% said there were no NHS services they had struggled to access; around one in four (24%1) respondents who have needed to access care in the last six months disagreed that they have been able to access the services they need in the past six months.       

“Everything has been postponed, I have been waiting for surgery for over three years.”

·       Just over three out of ten (31%) want full ownership of and easy access to all their medical information.          

“Impossible to get access to the medical records in full.” 

Commenting on the results, the Chief Executive of the Patients Association Rachel Power said: “These survey results show how a broken NHS is damaging the relationship patients have with the services they need. 

“It is critical that the new Government halts and reverses the decline in the NHS. Patients deserve far better than they’re getting now. So we call on the new Government and the NHS to work in partnership with patients to reverse this decline and deliver the care people need to live well.” 

Other findings from the survey of 1,210 respondents include: 

·       A quarter (26%2) of respondents agreed they had been given the opportunity to choose an alternative location for hospital care

    “I’m constantly having hospital appointments cancelled. I ask them to change me to other hospitals/doctors, I’m told yes but never do.”

·       Two fifths (41%2) agreed their care has been well coordinated     

“You get there - eventually - but the waste in time and the to-ing and fro-ing from appointment to appointment is a waste of resources. Sort issues quickly and stop multiple appointments.”

·       A little less than half (45%2) agreed they had been kept informed about what was happening with their care and almost a fifth (19%1) disagreed they had.

“Long waiting list. Wrong information. Consultants letter contained information that was never discussed with patient.”

Rachel Power said: “The survey’s findings strongly support the Patients Association's manifesto demands especially for our call that the new Government introduce a health-in-all government policies approach to health, which was backed by 7 out of 103 respondents to the survey. 

“We also see how desperate patients are for the new Government to reverse the normalisation of the crisis in health and care. Patients want more spent on the NHS to improve their access to and experience of care.”

We made five demands in our manifesto. Respondents to our survey back those demands to varying degrees.   

Demand 1. Take patient partnership from theory to practice:

Our survey reveals a clear desire for patients to be treated as an equal partner in their care, with nearly half (45%) believing this would improve communication and transparency.  

Demand 2. Make increasing the availability of quality care a national priority:

With only around half (47%2) of respondents agreeing they could access services they needed, our demand for a new ambitious strategy to get more patients the care they need is clearly urgently needed. 

Demand 3. Place health at the heart of government:

A majority of respondents, seven out of ten (71%3) agreed that all Government departments should prioritise public health, backing our call for a cross-government strategy that sets out what different departments can do to promote patient health and well-being and avoid causing additional harm. 

Demand 4. Deliver genuine two-way communication:

Just over two-fifths (41%2) of respondents felt their care was well coordinated; in our manifesto we called on the next Government to increase the number of care coordinators care navigators to improve coordination of care and improved communication routes. 

Demand 5. Provide the workforce patients need:

Just under a third (32%) of respondents believe the Government should prioritise investing in healthcare staff, backing our demand for full implementation of the NHS workforce plan.

For full details of the survey findings including how many patients are paying for private care because of long waits, whether patient choice is happening and what patients think would improve communication and transparency, read the report Beyond the breaking point: patient survey highlights NHS challenges

[1] ‘Strongly disagree’ and ‘Somewhat disagree’ responses combined
[2] ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Somewhat agree’ responses combined
[3] ‘Yes, definitely’ and ‘Yes, somewhat’ responses combined

Full methodology and dataset from the Beyond the breaking point survey.
Download infographics showing patients' experiences and patients' priorities for the new Government.