In 2020, patients told us about their experiences of living with health and care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their testimony painted a bleak picture in many ways. Our follow-up survey finds that many aspects of their experiences are not much better, and some are worse.

Our survey draws on 453 responses, submitted over February, March and early April 2021, during which time lockdown restrictions began to ease, and the rollout of COVID vaccines gathered pace.

The vaccination programme in particular was a bright spot: patients mostly felt well informed and were easily able to make appointments, although a minority had less smooth experiences. Feedback on vaccination appointments was overwhelmingly positive.

However, accessing GP services remains difficult for many, and patients overall do not regard remote consultations as an adequate replacement for in-person appointments. We are calling for the NHS to restore face-to-face consultations as the default form of GP appointment, and supporting HealthWatch England’s call for a wider review of GP access.

We also found that patients who shielded mostly did not do so in line with NHS advice, but used their own judgement about whether and when to shield.

While there was a range of views about the overall handling of the pandemic, it tended towards the negative.

For all the details, you can read the full report below, and also the appendix giving the full response data.

Pandemic Patient Experience II: full report (PDF)

Appendix: methodology and full response data (PDF)